Most students are unaware that a surprising connection to math is art. Two departments at Eisenhower High School decided to collaborate. The Visual Art Department and the Mathematics Department set out to show students the links between mathematics and the arts.
Art students researched various artists in flexible groups. They presented what they had learned about the artists and their artwork to their classmates. Then math and art students collaborated to enlarge their famous pieces of artwork.
To help students enlarge the projects, Gary Newman and Kaileigh Rosplohowski gave a short lecture about proportions and scale factors. Newman serves as a geometry teacher and Rosplohowski is a visual arts teacher at the campus. This math component of the collaboration is what guided the student artists. This helped them to properly proportion and scale the pieces.
The teachers used photographs of well-known objects to explain how the brain interprets scale. Humans are able to interpret a scale without even thinking about it. For instance, a photo of Mount Everest is a representation of the mountain. It doesn’t mean the mountain is only as large as the photograph. The brain is able to imagine the size by dilating the image using an “assumed scale factor.”
The mathematics students used their geometry and logical thinking skills. They measured, set up ratios, and used a scale factor. Their part helped the student artists start their end of the project. The students drew a grid of evenly spaced horizontal and vertical lines on a photocopy of the artwork they were studying. After measuring each unit (a box in the grid), they used a scale factor to dilate each box to a larger version of itself.
The student artists then applied either oil pastels, paint or colored pencil to the piece. They worked to create the color value of the original artwork.
“Collaborative learning enhances critical thinking,” said Rosplohowski. “We find that students develop a better understanding of concepts through this method.”
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