I ran a school-day Math Art Festival today with fifth graders, and then again with third graders. I always start by introducing the activities at each of the four making stations and then let them do as they will with the materials. The first station today was “Build” using straws and pipe cleaners. I showed them how to bend the pipe cleaner to connect two straws. “…and if you want to build UP,” I said, “you take another pipe cleaner, bend it in half and…[attaching the straw]…”
“IT’S MAGIC!” the fifth graders exclaimed. The third graders had the same reaction. My heart felt full to bursting.
Another station is the Fold & Cut activity. I showed them how I could fold a square in half to get a triangle, and then fold it two more times. Then, I said, “See the place where all the folds come together. That’s where the center of the paper is. I could cut across, but I think I want to make two cuts to see what happens.” I made my cuts and then opened up the paper…
“IT’S MAGIC!!!” They exclaimed with the light bright in their eyes, and my heart full-to-bursting.
“Now remember,” I added. “These projects are only the starting point. If you see something different in materials then you are free to explore and express what you are seeing. Here’s some of what they saw.
Spiraling rhombi, an irregular hexagon, a beetle, and an hourglass.
Looking for structure, creating pattern.
Folding, cutting, evaluating, revising strategies..beauty!
It’s not only MAGIC but it is MAGICAL to watch them making the mathematical beauty literally unfold in front of their eyes.