Today we talked about how science and math intersect in art…

Two students play stringed instruments and one sings. We talked about how counting beats for notes is math and the vibration of strings and vocal chords is physics.  We talked about how dancing is anatomy and math (also to count beats) and how sometimes, just looking at things in science is visually beautiful.

But could math be visually beautiful?

We did spirolaterals – which are like the old-time spirographs, but with counting!  You choose a sequence of numbers and you draw lines along the sides of that many squares on the graph paper.  Then you turn the paper (always in the same direction) and draw along the side of the number of squares for the next number in the sequence.  Eventually, you come to the end of the sequence, turn the paper, and start over.

Sometimes, this creates a pattern that connects back at the beginning and sometimes it scrawls across the page.  In this link, you can see some of the patterns. This author did sequences of counting by 1 up to the number 9 where our class did them by 1 counting up to number 4—but we also tried a random set of numbers as well!)

We then moved on to using triangle grid paper (sometimes changing direction with a sharp angle and sometimes with the wide angle—but always using the same choice) and then with hexagon grid paper.  One of our students notices that the same sequence produced the same shape on two different grids!

We didn’t get to the point of making real art with our patterns, but the kids were happy enough to see where the patterns went, what shapes their sequences made and experiencing cool new types of graphs!

Math Games: Spirolaterals