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  • Writer's pictureFarica Erwin

Camp Time 2019

Updated: Jun 23, 2022

Every year, I host a week long Art of Math Camp for 6-8th graders. We get to spend 3 hours each day together. I post pictures of the projects on Instagram and Twitter. Camp is always the week before school starts to help me get back into teaching mode. My room gets unpacked and organized before camp. I only work half days, but still have to get up early. AND, all of the "teacher tired" and "body aches and pains" scenarios are over before school starts!

I have a running list of ideas and projects that I use from year to year. You can have your own copy of that list here. I try to change the topics and projects because I have students who repeat the camp and I want them to get something new.

This year, I focused all of my projects around the theme "Explosion." I have never had a theme before (just doing projects I think are fun and cool), but it seems to have really helped me figure out what topics and projects to address.

Day 1: Fibonacci Circles and Explosion Books

I have always done a Fibonacci Sequence lesson of the first day. We sometimes read the book "Rabbits Rabbits Everywhere" as an intro. This year, after attending a session by Sunil Singh (@Mathgarden), we also discussed Pingala, the 500 BCE Sanskrit poet, who probably has the first record of the pattern. For the activity, I always have them make different colored Fibonacci circles. This gives them practice with a compass and measuring the radius exactly. They make circles of radius (or diameter) 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, and sometimes 13 (is they measure in cm). Then they cut those circles out and glue to a 11x17 piece of black construction paper.

This year, I wanted to do something new. I still wanted them to practice with a compass, but needed to display them differently. While reading a ton of art blogs, I found Explosion Books. Ursina Amsler blogs about them and you can find a video tutorial on her site.

My students used 2 pieces of 8.5"x14" heavy paper to make their Fibonacci circles anywhere on the page. We discussed warm vs cool colors, made a list of each, then I set them loose to paint with regular 16 count Crayola watercolors. They had to color the entire papers, and use only their chosen set of warm or cool colors. When finished with this step, I had them splatter paint with a contrast color (white or black). The paint dries pretty quickly, so they could then embellish with metallic sharpie pens.

We let these dry overnight and constructed the books the next day.

Day 2: Paper Folding and Exploding Canvases

Since we were familiar with making circles, we explored other shapes we could make. Once we discovered how to make an equilateral triangle, I challenged them to make 4 next to each other like a triforce. We explored how that made a tetrahedron net. After some Noticing and Wondering about the relationships between a triangles with sides of length 1, 2, and 3, we created out own. Realizing that it would take forever to make a bunch of our own nets, I pulled out the copies I had already made from Clarissa Grandi's blog. Students picked multiple colors and sizes to make a design that would fit on an 8x10 canvas. When tetrahedrons were cut and glued together, we used glue dots to stick them to the canvas.

Day 3: Islamic Geometry and Exploding Squares

At #TMC18 I attended the Islamic Geometry morning session with Annie Perkins (@anniek_p), Megan Schmidt (@Veganmathbeagle), and Stephen Weimar (@sweimar). I was excited to learn the techniques to bring back to Art Camp. To connect with creating shapes the day before, I began by showing them how to create a square, a hexagon, and an octagon with the compass and straight-edge. This year, I lead the students through the expanding squares construction (which I dubbed Exploding Squares to fit my theme).

After, they were allowed to choose a design to put on watercolor paper. We used watercolor pencils to color the designs and painted them with water to get a nice effect. Many chose the hexagon pattern because they liked the flowers created.

Day 4: Modular Origami and Exploding Polyhedrons

I love origami. I used to make elephants while sitting on hallway duty. I have origami constructions ALL OVER my classroom. Last year, we talked about truncated polyhedrons and made some Columbus Cubes.

This year, we discussed stellated polyhedra (which I dubbed Exploding Polyhedrons). I taught them two different modular folds. We use Sonobe units to make a stellated octahedron. Then we used a hexagon unit to make truncated stellated octahedrons. Some students needed to use tape because their hands could not hold all of the pieces together as they worked.

Day 5: Line Drawings and Exploding Fractals

On the last day, I like to have a project that does not take the whole three hours so there is time to finish up other projects. Of course, I also have back-up activities for those quick workers.

The fractal discussion started with the Sierpinski Triangle. This was a great tie-in to previous lessons as the second step looks like the triforce of the tetrahedron net. After looking at the Cantor set and the Koch Snowflake, we discussed area and perimeter. What was increasing, what was decreasing, would it get infinitely bigger...? They really had some great insight into what was happening. For the activity, we made tetrahedron kites. Their favorite part was picking out what color tissue paper to use.

For those that finished early and needed another project, we continued line drawings with parabolic curves. Jen Walshaw has some great templates on her site MumInTheMadHouse. There are some great templates here. The six pointed one looks great colored, cut out, and put on black construction paper. It makes it look like fireworks (according to the students).

Then the last 10 -15 minutes are used to clean up and put away supplies. Students wipe down desks (to get rid of glue stick marks), help put supplies back in my closet, and clean up the floor. Then, miraculously, my room is ready and put together a week before school starts!

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