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Examples of Math in the Making

Please use this thread to share examples and ideas related to integrating mathematics with making and tinkering experiences at any time throughout the online forum. We look forward to seeing what everyone has been working on!


Scott Pattison, Andee Rubin, and the Math in the Making team  

Sculptural Weather Data

A nice, concise example of using data to create pattern, or visualizing weather data through sculpture. The medium and content, basket weaving and repeating data, seems like a great pairing.


Susan Klimczak
Another sculptural weather data project.


This is beautiful and reminded me of another weather data project --- much simpler, but involving knitting a row that represents data about the weather each day and having a scarf that represents data over a long period of time. 

Love it! It's interesting to

Love it! It's interesting to me, as a non-knitter and basket weaver, how both of these videos are about the "how to" of making AND the integration of data.

More sculptural weaving

Kim -  I'm so glad you brought this example to the forum.  It turns out that a friend of mine took a class with Nathalie Miebach (who is local to us here in Boston) and has been doing sculptural weaving of her own - including a rather large elephant (called "The Elephant in the Room") made out of recycled treadmill treads!  Very inspiring in so many ways.  Looking forward to meeting you in NY.

Crocheted Geometry (and Biology)

Related to the Sky Scarf project, I've seen a few iterations of crochet used to model hyperbolic geometry (http://theiff.org/oexhibits/05b.html), where these pieces in turn are often combined into crocheted coral reefs (http://crochetcoralreef.org/about/). This seems like a project that could carry math learning both in the constructing/making and in later use. The flexibility of crochet as a medium could also be a neat space for students to explore, evaluating the impact of different stitching choices on the resulting geometry.

math an fiber arts!

There is a knitting group at the museum (where I work). I think I'm going to join in on their next gathering and ask them how they see (or don't) math in their making.

Knitting at the workshop

Leah -

Thanks for bringing up hyperbolic crocheting.  I have a mathematician friend in Australia who has been very involved in this work, so I've loved it for a while.  AND we'll be doing some large-scale knitting together at the workshop, so there will be more opportunity to consider how fiber arts might be a way to combine math and making.  Looking forward to seeing you there.

Coral Crochet TED Talk

For those that haven't seen the TED talk on coral crochet & hyperbolic geometry, it's definitely worth a watch before the workshop:


Margaret Wertheim is my hero, especially when she says that here, through a domestic feminine art, is proof that the most famous postulate in mathematics is wrong!

Move over, Euclid. #;-)



Paper Circuit Perspective Paintings

After one of our paper circuitry workshops with a group of educators from an alternative school on Treasure Island...

They collaborated and shared a creative STEAM project that combined math + art + electrical engineering. Students graphed a system of equations by plotting graphs of two intersecting lines, designed circuits to light up the intersection points, and then turned them into gorgeous one-point perspective paintings.


Digital Making (Photography, Animation) and Math

There are many examples of mathematical thinking while making, particularly spatial and geometric.  We developed tools at NYSCI, called Noticing Tools, that were designed for middle school children to make mathematics and science discoveries in the context of compelling design projects involved forced perspective photography, animated dance moves, or making photographs of things in the world go from 2D to 3D (see http://noticing.nysci.org) for more information.  One of the challenges is that while there are mathematical tools available in each of our apps (e.g., you can carve up photos into different fractional parts and different visual models to create photo-mash-ups), we are always what kinds of mathematical thinking are children engaging in when they create things they get really invested in?  Are they conscious of what they are doing?  And is that important?  Also when you get teachers involved in using tools with their students, what happens when they impose the "important math" kids need to learn while narrowing the things that children get to make and create?  Looking forward to discussing this more.

Please use this thread to
Please use this thread to share examples and ideas related to integrating mathematics with making and tinkering experiences at any time throughout the online forum. We look forward to seeing what everyone has been working on!
Scott Pattison, Andee Rubin, and the Math in the Making team
Scott, Thanks for this thread!
Today I wanna share how educators came together for a series of collaborative design workshops. The goal: to create a professional development program weaving together art and mathematics for use in informal learning settings. Of special interest: Mathematical Practices of the Common Core State Standards.
How to make math class interesting?

Make it meaningful

Many math courses suffer from the following issues:

    The teachers don't know why they are teaching particular math topics, and they often don't know what else the students are learning in other subjects.
    As a result, the students don't know why they learn those math topics, either. The common question, "Why do we have to learn this?", is a reasonable one. Do you have a good answer, beyond "It's in the exam" or worse, "Because it's good for you"?

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Start with concrete examples - leave the abstract concepts to later

Math is largely about abstraction. Mathematicians for centuries have thought about real problems and come up with practical ways to solve those problems. Later, they have generalized the process, usually presenting the solution using algebraic formulas.

When students have no idea what the original practical problems actually mean, how can they be expected to understand the abstractions of those problems (using the formulas)?

Start with an interesting, real-world problem (preferably localized)

Most math lectures start with "Here's the new formula for today, here's how you plug in values, here's the correct answer."

Problem is, there's no attempt to motivate the learners.

It is good to pique curiosity with a photograph, a short video, a diagram, a joke, or perhaps a graph. This trigger should outline an interesting problem in your local area (so students can relate to it better and feel more ownership).

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