A #MathArtChallenge Update. Goal: Day 100

Welcome to Day 50.

This thing has brought ME so much joy, and I hope it’s brought some to you, too. I am just tickled at how this silly thing I started has grown. I love seeing that other folk (some I’ve never interacted with at all) have posted their own #mathartchallenge-s, and it is a highlight of my day when, each night, I search the hashtag. There has yet to be a day when there isn’t something new you have created.

And, of course, it’s not accidental that this is happening when so many things in the world are overwhelming. That’s why this started. I wanted a way to connect with my students when I felt I was getting pulled apart from them. I figured they’d check an instagram page more quickly than they’d check google classroom. I hope it’s understood that I don’t bring math art to everyone to downplay or ignore the pandemic or to distract from the deep inequities we’re seeing it expose. I’m bringing it because I deeply believe that we have to have joy around to help, even in a tiny way, counteract the horrible things in the world, even as we work to fix them. 

The only downside (to the Math Art Challenge) from my end is that I don’t personally have the time to linger over the challenges that I’d like to, but the trade-off, for now, is worth it to me. It has long been obvious to me that math is beautiful and deeply intertwined with art, but I get regular posts from folk saying it had never occurred to them. I’m ever so glad to be spreading that obvious-to-me truth, especially if it’s not so obvious to everyone else.

By no means do I want this thing to “stop” at any point. I’m hoping that long after I cease posting daily challenges, folk circle back to any of the ones I have posted and find something new. Or that y’all just post your own whenever they come up. (Thanks, Squidge!) That said, I think I will have to stop at some point. So I am setting the admittedly arbitrary, but still quite satisfying goal of reaching day 100. We’re half-way there. It may turn out that days 70-100 are just different versions of origami, knots or islamic geometry (I’d be fine with that), but I’m confident I can seek out enough new things to fill those days. You can, of course, offer suggestions here.

Some folk have posted their own challenges and I absolutely LOVE that. Some I fully  intend to use in later days (Mark Kaercher posted George Hart’s Card construction on Tuesday, and that, along with several more George Hart creations, are in my list somewhere in the day 60-70 range). But the beauty of this thing is that almost no one can keep up doing every challenge every day, so just play when you can. Almost everything has been posted somewhere else sometime before, so I hope no one feels any time pressure to engage. I love that folk post their versions of a challenge from years ago (several of you had this with the origami firework). The whole point of the thing is to play. It brings me great joy that there are #mathartchallenge conversations and tangents I find that have no connection to me. Feels like I’ve let this thing loose in the world and it’s taking its own shape.

But my goal is to post a total of 100 math art creations for you all. Many are still low-tech, but some are (and are going to be) a little more specialized. I hope that if those tickle you, you can tuck them away for a time when you have the energy, materials, and enthusiasm to tackle them. When I’m all done, I’ll circle back to those I want to linger on, and will return to some projects I’ve semi-abandoned (my knots! I’m coming back to you, I swear!). Then you go wherever you want with it.

Author: Ms. P

Math Teacher in Minneapolis, MN.

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