#MathArtChallenge 91: 3D Cube Cut-Outs

A potato cut in the shape of a letter A, with shadow behind it.

The Challenge: Find some materials that will allow you to create one of those beautiful 3D 3-letter (or shape? Follow your heart) cut-outs. I used a potato.

Materials Needed: Something you can cut up. Potatoes, crafting foam, apples… food, I think would work well here.
Math concepts you could explore with this challenge: angles, geometry, perspective, polyhedra, symmetry

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The Last 10 #MathArtChallenge

Only 10 left until we reach the goal of 100 Math Art Challenges.

A thing I’ve noticed is that since I took a pause after George Floyd was murdered (there were just more important places for my and everyone else’s attention) is there’s a notable slow down of engagement. Which is totally fine, of course. Part of my capturing and recording all of them here on this blog is so they’ll be around and available whenever you want to play or when schools start up again in the fall. But I would like to encourage folk to engage again and to capture a bit of the magic that I felt when folk were spinning them into something new nearly every day. So the last 10 will come out over the next 10 days. The finale will be August 5th.

Another part of the slow rate they’ve been coming out recently has been that I’m trying to be a bit more thoughtful about them, which has led to a big of paralyzation on my part. I spend a lot of time thinking, “Is this even worth people’s time? Is it meaningful enough? Is it connected to enough things?” And while those musings are important to me, there comes a time when I’ve mused enough and need to just create and publish. So for the last 10, I wanted to expound a bit on what I’m prioritizing and what I’ve been musing about as I’ve planned these last 10.

I can’t stop thinking about how much of math is trapped by the expectation that math needs to be calculation centered – involving symbols and paper scratching. Of course there is freedom that comes with exploring the meaning behind those symbols and scratching, but there are so many other ways to experience and expand math. I think a lot about the de-colonization and re-humanizing of mathematics and how worship of the written word is wrapped up in preventing us from expanding our perception of what mathematics is.

Mathematics is beautiful. That’s important to me.

Mathematics is powerful. It can persuade for good and evil purposes.

I want to help us explore mathematics in ways that celebrate the historical importance of mathematics in a variety of cultures, and in ways that expand your idea of what math is and can be.

Finally, mathematics can be used to exclude when it’s too mystified. Part of me thinks that by keeping the planned #MathArtChallenge-s to myself, I’ve been a bit exclusionary. So I’m posting at least the titles of all remaining 10 below. Feel free to engage early if that’s exciting to you. I have put a lot of work into this, but it’s not my endeavor alone. It wouldn’t be anything if y’all hadn’t engaged.

So the last 10 will be:

91. Monday, July 27th: 3D Cube letter shadows suggested by Sam Shah

92. Tuesday, July 28th: W.E.B DuBois’ Data portraits

93. Wednesday, July 29th: Polyhedra creation based on vertex descriptions

94. Thursday, July 30th Friday, July 31st: A final Islamic Art design

95. Friday, July 31st Saturday, August 1st: Magic Squares & Circles

96. Saturday, August 1st Sunday, August 2nd: Rational Tangles & Candice Price

97. Sunday, August 2nd Monday, August 3rd: Creative origami sculpture

98. Monday, August 3rdTuesday, August 4th: The most beautiful proof I’ve ever seen

99. Tuesday, August 4thWednesday, August 5th: Hidden in Plain View quilting patterns, oral history, and the Underground Railroad

100. Wednesday, August 5thThursday, August 6th: Celebration (So this one’s still a bit of a secret – indulge me, but if you want to play along you probably want to get a hold of some twisting balloons, which is maybe enough for you to guess what I’m planning.)

#MathArtChallenge 90: Sand Piles

The Challenge: Explore a toppling sand pile.

Materials Needed: Paper, pencil, and probably a good eraser. You could also do this using a whiteboard or other writing surface.
Math concepts you could explore with this challenge: algebra, arithmetic, counting, fractals, functions isometric, proportions/ratios

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#MathArtChallenge 89: Voronoi diagrams

Voronoi Diagram Sketched in Notebook

The Challenge: Throw some random points (or carefully selected ones!) on a plane. Identify the parts of the plane that are closest to each of those points.

Materials Needed: Paper, ruler, writing utensil.
Math concepts you could explore with this challenge: algebra, arithmetic, geometry, lines, proportions/ratios, slope, tessellations, vertices/intersections.

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#MathArtChallenge 88: the Recamán Sequence

The Challenge: Create a visual (or audio?) of the Recamán sequence, created by a Colombian mathematician, Bernardo Recamán Santos (who seems to have very little biographical information out there??). I was first introduced through Alex Bellos and Edmund Harris’s book.

Materials Needed: Straight edge, maybe a compass, maybe a ruler. Paper, riting utensil.
Math concepts you could explore with this challenge: algebra, circles, counting, functions, proportions/ratios, randomness, sequences

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#MathArtChallenge 87: Burr Puzzle Origami

An origami stellated polyhedra made from origami

The Challenge: Fold yourself a 6 piece puzzle that comes together as a 3D star shape. You’ll need 6 pieces of paper.

Materials Needed: 6 square pieces of paper.
Math concepts you could explore with this challenge: angles, geometry, origami, polygons, polyhedra, vertices.

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#MathArtChallenge 86: Tla’amin Basket Weaving: Coding and Indigenous teaching

The Challenge: Play with the widget here to explore your own Tla’amin basket weaving patterns.

Materials Needed: The applet linked above.
Math concepts you could explore with this challenge: geometry, sequences, symmetry, tessellations

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#MathArtChallenge 84: Tangrams

The Challenge: Get yourself a square of paper (or something else?) and cut yourself a set of tangrams. Then create away!

Materials Needed: Scissors, paper
Math concepts you could explore with this challenge: angles, geometry, lines, polygons, proportions/ratios, symmetry, tessellations

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#MathArtChallenge 83: African Fractals

The Challenge: Create a self-repeating pattern – a fractal. You may choose your own design, or perhaps you recreate some of the ones from Ron Eglash’s survey studying the fractal formation of African villages. I did both of these looking at the applet at his website.

Materials Needed: paper and pencil, likely, but you can probably get more creative than that, too! Maybe using sculptural materials?
Math concepts you could explore with this challenge: angles, fractals

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82 #MathArtChallenge meets #MathPhoto20 in “What is Math Art?”

The challenge: Define math art for yourself, capture an example of it in a picture (or a series of pictures), and share with #MathPhoto20 and #mathartchallenge.

This week #MathPhoto20 and its organizers, Carl Oliver and Erick Lee, are also going to be engaging with the #mathartchallenge by creating some math art challenges and posting those with the same hashtags. Our hope is to spark a discussion about math art, photography, and where and how we see math in the world.

The context: Math art is a poorly defined term. Definitions can be challenging, but clear, precise definitions help us communicate better. I’ve occasionally found heated disagreements quickly resolve once its noticed folk involved are using different definitions. For example: I usually hold that lines do not need to be straight, but for the sake of proving some geometric properties in Euclidean geometry, I’m happy to situationally accept the requirement of “straight”.

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