Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Fun Videos for Mathematical Art

I have been leading an after school club for elementary students in which we explore Math through Digital Art. The tool we have been using is BYOB - Build Your Own Blocks. It is an extension of Scratch, a very popular visual programming tool from the Life Long Kindergarten lab at MIT. BYOB exposes more of the capabilities of the underlying Smalltalk-like language called Squeak and, true to its name, allows the user to make new blocks. This has opened up a whole new range of topics we can cover -- such as recursion which allows us to create fractals.

During the course, I have been showing some videos which feature fun and interesting aspects of Math and Art. I thought I would share some of them with you here.

The first is called The Line and the Dot: A Romance in Lower Mathematics. Based on a book by Norten Juster, the film from the 1960's tells the story of a romance in two dimensions. Like the book Flatland, there is an underlying social commentary.

The next video, called Canon, is by Norman McLaren, an early Canadian animator. This film is also from the 1960's and uses the idea of a musical round, like "Row, row, your boat", but in a visual context. My students will create their own animations with this theme.

Finally, I would like to share the video Bicycle Animation by Katy Beveridge. You can actually buy one of these amazing wheel covers from her but be warned you only get the animation affect when filmed through a camera - if you are riding your bike down the street the people watching will just see a white blur. As a group, my club discusses how the eye and the brain work in order to provide the image that we perceive as reality.

There are several similar videos such as the one below called The Cyclotrope by Tim Wheatley.

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