Do you recall the enthusiasm of working on various art projects from your elementary school days? I do and I believe that that excitement still exists in high schools students, and that it can be rekindled. Wherever applicable and appropriate, I incorporate art activities in my classes to enrich mathematical investigations. The “Circles of Masks” is one such activity.
After repeatedly viewing a colored dragon mask that my daughter constructed in elementary school many years ago, I suddenly realized that it consisted of all curved lines that could be duplicated by a compass. Furthermore, I recognized this would make a terrific project that would offer students the opportunity to practice constructing arcs and circles, to review and apply the Cartesian coordinate system, and to demonstrate their understanding of reflections in completing a mask. Additionally, I would have to introduce a new symbolism to draw and locate varying arcs for the mask. Besides the geometric and symbolic mathematics that the students would have to apply, they could also apply their artistic skills to embellish their masks.
Not only was this activity successful in my “Survey of Mathematics” class, but also I was able to paint a large mural (approximately 6 feet by 6 feet) of the final image on the wall of the hallway outside of my classroom. See “Math Murals – Celebrating the Diversity of Mathematics” on the TpT website.