New geometry mural is anything but pointless


Erika Peterson

Ms. Woldum’s Open geometry class creates interdisciplinary projects every unit to match its focus on art. For their most recent unit, students are creating a mural on the wall outside Room 230. “You kind of get to put your own creativity into the stuff you’re doing, whereas in other math classes you kind of just take notes, and listen and do tests,” said Noa Simon-Latz, a freshman in Woldum’s class.

Erika Peterson, Staff Writer

Ms. Woldum’s Open geometry class is creating a mural on the wall outside her room, 230. The mural utilizes mathematical skills from the class’s Transformations and Tessellations unit to match the class’s focus on art.

As part of the tessellations unit, small groups of students were responsible for tessellating one panel of the wall. They first chose 1 of 3 geometric shapes that tessellate: hexagons, squares, and equilateral triangles.

“You had to cut a part out of that shape to make it your own so it could tessellate more, and then you just measure that, and right now we’re taking our main parts that we made the first time and just going over them in different colors,” said Noa Simon-Latz, a freshman in Woldum’s class.

Once the shapes were cut out, students arranged them on the wall and used Modge Podge to place them in a tessellating pattern. After groups have finished glueing, Woldum will cover the wall with clear lacquer. “Initially we were gonna paint it, but I think it wouldn’t be really clean cut, so they’re gonna cut all their pieces out of paper, and then modge podge it on the wall, and then when everyone’s not here, I’ll clear-lacquer it,” explained Woldum.

In order to create the mural, students used mathematical strategies learned in the geometry unit, Transformations and Tessellations. “They had to describe how they created their tessellated shape, so we learned all about the mathematics of isometries, like translations, and reflections, and rotations, and then they created their shape and then they actually had to calculate how many pieces they would need to tessellate the wall,” said Woldum. “It kinda previews, for us, some stuff for us we’re gonna talk about in chapter 8,” Woldum continued.

Woldum ends every unit in her geometry class with an art-based project as the assessment for the chapter. Earlier this year, students created optical illusions and personal symbols using geometrical constructions and tools, such as compasses and straightedges.

“It kinda comes from my personal background. When I went to college at the U of M I actually majored in studio art, and for a long time I was thinking of being an art teacher…but I ended up being a math teacher instead. I’m always still kind of a wannabe art teacher,” Woldum explained. “And so what we do in my geometry class is we cover all the same content as the regular geometry classes…but then at the end of every chapter we have an interdisciplinary project, where we use mathematics to appreciate or create different art projects.”

In previous years, Woldum has ended this unit with a paper tessellation project, but because she only has 1 art-oriented geometry class, and the class is smaller in size, Woldum decided to try something new this year. “In the past I’ve had students do individual projects…but honestly I was kind of bored of doing that, and I wanted to do something different, and so this year we’re gonna make a mural,” said Woldum.

Many of Woldum’s students enjoy the art theme of the class. “You kind of get to put your own creativity into the stuff you’re doing, whereas in other math classes you kind of just take notes, and listen and do tests,” said Simon-Latz.

Freshman Liam Campbell also likes the interdisciplinary theme. “It makes it less boring…The art aspect of it makes it more interesting,” he said. The mural is expected to be finished sometime during the next week. You can view it on the wall outside Ms. Woldum’s room, 230.