Art: A Real-World Geometry Problem

By Michael E. Flinchbaugh, Instructional Coach, J. H. Rose High School, Pitt County

As an instructional coach, I have the opportunity to work with teachers in every discipline. I recently worked with an outstanding young geometry teacher eager to challenge her students and incorporate literacy into her curriculum by assigning a geometry-based research paper/project. Rather than simply assigning mathematical research topics like the Pythagorean theorem or the golden mean, we created research problems based mostly on art, architecture, and nature.

Students were presented with an image and a problem to apply to that image. For example, one pair of students, given an image of the Eiffel Tower, had to figure out the reason the architect used triangles so extensively in his design. Another pair was asked to explain the use of the golden ratio in creating the beauty of the Mona Lisa.

Having solved their problems, at least partially, students wrote papers and presented their work to their classmates. Multidisciplinary learning was the end result, a result made possible only by teacher collaboration.

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