The Challenge: Create this decagon using the symmetries visible in the piece. The central images are rhombi.
Materials Needed: compass or ruler, could also use graphing software (see below!)
Math concepts you could explore with this challenge: angles, circles, geometric construction, geometry, polygons, symmetry, vertices/intersetions.
June is Pride month. I try to always acknowledge and honor that in my classroom. Last year, I put up this display in my classroom window:
This year, it made sense to create a rainbow #mathartchallenge to post for my kids to see. Having seen pride flags with Black and Brown stripes, noting it as a nod to a more inclusive pride, I picked a decagon design that I wasn’t totally sure how to create from Arts and Crafts of the Islamic Lands , and voila.
Except, of course, that I messed up. I didn’t do my research. ANY research. The original rainbow flag is 6 colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet. There are new designs that include Black and Brown stripes, and as of 2018, designed by Daniel Quasar, there is this flag:
This flag includes not just the Black and Brown stripes, but also nods to the transgender pride flag. You can read about it here.
I also want to speak the names of Tony McDade, a Black trans man killed by police, and Nina Pop, a Black trans woman killed in her apartment, both within the last few weeks.
When I posted my ill-informed rainbow, I hadn’t necessarily planned it to be a #mathartchallenge. However, seeing the collaboration of Tina Cardone and Xi Yu, I think it makes for a good exercise. If you follow the tweet, you can see their solution – the tutorial Xi refers to is also here.
You may also notice they actually tagged their creation with “Queer #BlackLivesMatter”, which I failed to do.
At the top of this post is a better version.
Better, I think because it honors (as best I could match) the actual colors of the pride flag, including those represented by the transgender flag. Not great yet, because as any decagon has 10 parts, I just ran out of space for all the colors (an 11 sided shape is rather challenging to construct). I would like to note that in the trans flag, the white color represents gender neutral or non-defined gender. Given the white paper, it seemed the easiest shade to not include. By no means do I mean to exclude gender neutral or non-defined gender people in this representation.
If you choose to participate in this #mathartchallenge, here are some questions I’d like you to reflect on:
- How many? What did you count and how did you count it?
- What angles are represented here?
- What shapes do you see that are not decagons?
- Can you find an 11 sided design that would better represent Daniel Quasar’s 11 color-flag?
- How do symbols, like flags, interact with identity at large? With your personal identity? What thoughts about representation are present or missing here?
Depending on how you use this activity, you may engage with different mathematical standards. I’ve listed possible connected math content above. Here are a few suggestions for how you might integrate the 8 mathematical practices. Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments!
2.) Reason abstractly and quantitatively. How do the shapes interact with each other? What can you say about the relationships between them?
7.) Look for and make use of structure. The larger shape here is a decagon (10 sided shape). Where else do you see the theme of 10 appear here?