Turning Geometry into Art

Ninth-grade math students design geometrical tiles through coding, 3D printing.

Who said that you can’t combine art and mathematics? Jennifer Maitland’s ninth-grade honors geometry students recently completed a project that involved both of these disciplines—plus coding and 3D printing—to create original works of art.

The idea stemmed from geometrical coding projects using Scratch that JK-12 Technology Coordinator Robin Ricketts has done with Lower School students. Mrs. Maitland and Ms. Ricketts adapted the project to involve a higher level of thinking and include 3D printing so that ninth-grade students would use Scratch (which they’ve learned in their App Tech classes) to create 3D geometric objects.

In conjunction to their study of the angles of polygons, students created algebraic loops in Scratch that represented correct angle measurements. The students worked in pairs to create several designs, and then combined their ideas to create one single design that was both pleasing to the eye and geometrically correct.

“To design the shapes, we had to work with numbers, and while we were coding, we had to make sure we were measuring correctly to get them to the right size,” said ninth-grade student Joe Shaia. “It took several tries to get everything correct, so it showed that trial and error is part of the learning process.”

Next, the students worked with Ms. Ricketts and Upper School innovation teacher Tom Gallo to convert their Scratch designs into printable files, upload the files to Tinkercad, and 3D print the designs into physical tile pieces. Finally, the students painted these tiles and stamped the designs on blank paper to create colorful banners.

Mrs. Maitland, who participated in a program with Partners in the Arts at Steward several years ago, said this project is a reflection of the importance of incorporating art into the classroom, no matter the subject. The project also connects to the themes of the upcoming event “Beautiful Technology” with Visiting Innovator Leah Buechley on Wednesday, April 19.

“The project helped students touch on their creative side while still seeing how it relates to math,” she said. “The fact that we can relate art, math, coding, and 3D printing to create something just totally encompasses Steward’s mission, in my mind.”

After they completed the project, students wrote reflections on what they learned. They will either take their 3D tiles—which are suitable for printing on paper or fabric and as cookie and clay stamps—home with them or donate them to be used as examples for next year’s class.





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