Maths Is Beautiful

So, the kids are officially back to school. Hopefully they are happy about that and looking forward to being back in the classroom. Perhaps though the prospect of some subjects don’t fill your child with much joy? When I was at school, maths and science were the dreaded two – they always seemed unreachable, and certainly not enjoyable! I was a smart kid and got good grades but I could never really connect to, what seemed to me, very dull concepts – there was absolutely no creativity attached to subjects like Maths or Science.

Although there is still a long way to go, thankfully the approach to the teaching of STEM subjects has undergone some refreshing changes in recent times. If you are finding it tough to inspire your children we have highlighted some of Tootsa’s favourite fun, artistic, and exciting ways to engage in STEM.

There are tonnes of Mathematic Art Projects for kids out there to get them learning through colour and fun. The utterly fantastic blog What Do We Do All Day written by stay a home mum Erica is a great resource. Check out her activities for Pi Skyline, creating a colourful cityscape by graphing the numbers in Pi, Parabolic Curves, and Tessellations.

Earlier this year New York teacher Anna Weltman released This Is Not A Maths Book which is full of fun drawing challenges with a mathematical basis.  “Amazing patterns with a mathematical essence will be revealed as you follow the simple activity instructions”.

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Kiwi Crate is a company devoted to getting kids curious and creative. They make three different boxes / kits that you can order online: Koala for 3-4 year olds, Kiwi for 4-8 year olds, and Tinker Crate for 9 – 16 year olds. The Tinker box concentrates on science and engineering and is a fantastic way to get your kids fired up. Their manifesto:

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This month, author of award winning Alex’s Adventures in Numberland,  Alex Bellos will be at the Barbican delivering one of their Open Salon sessions entitled Maths is Beautiful.

Combining art and maths is, of course, not a new concept. Throughout history, artists, scientists, and philosophers have been fascinated by the relationship. The ancient Egyptians and ancient Greeks employed mathematics to plan monuments including the Great Pyramid, the Parthenon, and the Colosseum, using constructs like the 3-4-5 triangle. In the Italian Renaissance Luca Pacioli wrote the influential treatise De Divina Proportione (1509), illustrated with woodcuts by Leonardo da Vinci, on the use of proportion in art. Another Italian painter, Piero della Francesca, made pioneering use of mathematics for perspective, developing ideas first put forward in Euclid‘s Optics in treatises such as De Prospectiva Pingendi, and applying this knowledge in his paintings.

In his Barbican talk Alex Bellos promises to “reveal the patterns in our universe and explore the beauty and wonder of maths in an imaginative, stimulating and completely undaunting way.”   In his latest book, Snowflake, Seashell, Star – A Colouring Adventure in Numberland  (available on 24th September), he worked with his mathematical artist friend Edmund Hariss to produce a fantastic series of patterns first to colour, and then to create, using simple mathematical rules.

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Talking about the release he said: “This book has been incredibly fun and exciting to create. The patterns I’ve chosen are all doubly enjoyable – they are gorgeous to look at and colour in, but they also unlock hidden mathematical ideas.”

Fibonacci is another fantastic way to learn how to apply maths in art and a good way to introduce maths games for kids. The Rabbit Problem, by children’s author and illustrator Emily Gravett, is a great reference book for the theory – “How does 1+1 = 288? A family of rabbits soon supplies the answer! Hop along to Fibonacci’s Field and follow Lonely and Chalk Rabbit through a year as they try to cope with their fast expanding brood and handle a different seasonal challenge each month.”

The Rabbit Problem Maths Book

The wonderful thing about all of the learning resources we have featured is that if you didn’t particularly enjoy STEM subjects when you were at school, you can re-learn too. So, when you are buying your geometric items from Hay, you’ll actually know the true maths behind that beauty!

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1 Triangle Ruler + 2 Organic Cotton Zip Case from Design Museum Shop / 3 Tetrahedron Gold Mug from Southbank Centre Shop / 4 Off The Wall Clipboard / 5 Tootsa MacGinty Stirling Geometric knit Jumper in Ivy Green / 6 Reflections Necklace, Wolf & Moon / 7 Tiger Storage Boxes / 8 Side Table from Bricknell Collection / 9 Hay Dot Carpet

written by Lisa Dwyer Hogg

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