Jan 28, 2014

WonderWorks: Symmetry (Math)

Mirrors, palindromes and inkblot artwork--all fun ways to explore the concept of symmetry.

Today's Topic: Math--Symmetry
brushes (optional)
mirrors (a variety of shapes and sizes)
alphabet letters (print your own if you don't own any.  Lots available online. Try these.)
wooden blocks

 cover art Let's fly a kite / Murphy, Stuart J.
This one is a little long for a group read-aloud, but it explains symmetry SO nicely.  I skimmed and skipped and it was fine.

cover art Mom and Dad are palindromes : a dilemma for words-- backwards / Shulman, Mark
Palindromes are another fun way to discuss symmetry!
Projects inspired by:
Homeschool or Bust 
One Perfect Day

 What Kids Do: 
Play with blocks + mirrors:

(or just use the mirrors as blocks!)
Make folded symmetry paintings:

(Love this little guy's creative seating solution.  What an engineer!)
Test the foam alphabet set for symmetry:

Got wild and crazy with the big mirror blocks:
Enjoyed several symmetry apps (described at the end of this post.  The one pictured is Symmetry Lab Basic):

Adult Challenge of the week:  Don't tell your child their ideas are wrong.  (Let them try their own ideas out to test for themselves!)

Hindsight Tip:  The inkblot art might work better if you just dribble a few drops of paint down the center crease, let kids fold the paper in half, squish it, then open it up. 

 Variations to try: 
Playing cards are a great example of symmetry!
If it weren't the middle of winter, we could also discuss symmetry in leaves.  I suppose we could have also discussed the symmetry of snowflakes.
More fun:  cutting paper snowflakes and cutting out hearts to discover symmetry in those shapes.
Symmetry building challenges
Mirrors and sand variation

Related Apps: I used three (free!) apps in WonderWorks today.  My favorite is one called kscope by Bond & Coyne, created for the Arts University Bournemouth (AUB).  It's made free through a grant and is simple to use with a very clean interface, but creates a kaleidoscope effect using images from the camera.  I especially love that there are 5 different kaleidoscope patterns to explore.

The second one is by Luke Bradford and is called Symmetry Lab Basic.  It has a similar kaleidoscope effect, but instead of using the camera to get the image, you draw lines with your finger and it extends it into symmetrical art.  This is a really fantastic drawing app with lots of options (check out the lower menu bar and the settings and play around with the all the different functions!), but since it's free there are occasional banner ads that pop up (might be worth the 99 cents to pay for the full version and get rid of those...)

The last one is called Face Symmetry Tester HD by guohui li and I'm recommending it, despite the prominent banner ads.  This one got the most laughs and the most play during class and kids really had a great time testing the symmetry of EVERYTHING (not just faces) with this one.  This is a fun one to play together with an adult (or at least train your children how to deal with banner ads).  Another one with immediate symmetry feedback is instamirror and if it didn't have a banner ad obscuring the image you're looking at, I would recommend it whole-heartedly.  Fun to try out!  (similar android apps (untested by me!) are available here and here.  I'd love to hear feedback about either of these!)

For older students, you might try Symmetry School: Learning Geometry by Spraoi School (untested by me & not free, but it looks like a great app!)

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