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Monday, October 8, 2012

Area Dissection Art -- Integrated Math Project

Robots invade your Math Project!!!
Here is a great, fun opportunity to hone middle and high school area skills through dissection problems. Area dissection involves more critical thinking skills than a typical area problem, especially when you make them complex. Art is a natural extension of this and it makes it super fun. 

Name: Area Dissection Art
Suggested Grade Level: 7-12 (Primarily Geometry math skills, but project can be modified for different levels)
Math Concepts: Solving Area for Different Shapes, Measurement & Basic Operations
Interdisciplinary Connections: Visual Art
Teaching Duration: 3-5 Days (can be modified)
Cost: $5 for a 10 Page PDF (3 assignments, 1 project and Answer Key) 

The Product: A art collage constructed out of geometric shapes covering a total area of approximate 100 cm2
Hey I have this really cool, new idea
where I have students trace cans...
they're different sizes... and that's about it.
This 21st Century Math Project might find its way into a Middle or High School classroom depending on the skills and abilities of your young people. Of course I did not invent the idea of a geometric art project, but I built a set of lessons around a more mathematically rigorous topic of area dissection. I found that these questions often snuck onto state tests, but is rarely taught.

If you Google search for Area Dissection assignment, the pickings are slim. I found that my students often needed more practice with are problems in high school, but I can wrap my head around solve A=lw with a high schooler so I built everything around area dissection to increase the rigor. Same practice, more thinking. If you are interested in spending 2 weeks teaching area dissection, this unit is a great starting place for you. 

Your students are drawing zombies.
Is there a zombie indicator in the
common core?
Included alongside the project for the Art Project there are a series of increasingly challenging area dissection problems. From simple two shape dissections, to artistic dissection that I have drawn, including one students actually have to measure to find lengths (another thing that my students need a lot of practice with). These assignments hammer home the math skills essential for the project and can be used as standalone activities.

While you’ll find many of the common core standards focused on at the 6-8 grade level, this is still a skill I have seen frequently on high school standardized test. Solving for area is also certainly a skill that is seen on the ACT and SAT in more complex forms.
Mathematics >> Grade 7 >> Geometry
·        Draw construct, and describe geometrical figures and describe the relationships between them.
·         Solve problems involving scale drawings of geometric figures, including computing actual lengths and areas from a scale drawing and reproducing a scale drawing at a different scale.

·         Draw (freehand, with ruler and protractor, and with technology) geometric shapes with given conditions. Focus on constructing triangles from three measures of angles or sides, noticing when the conditions determine a unique triangle, more than one triangle, or no triangle.

Do you mean, I'm allowed to be creative?
·         Know the formulas for the area and circumference of a circle and use them to solve problems; give an informal derivation of the relationship between the circumference and area of a circle.

High School Geometry >> Modeling
  • Apply geometric methods to solve design problems



With this project, creativity will shine through and it will be something your students really enjoy. I generally award a prize for the student that can be the closest to 100 cm2, which is quite a challenge when requiring them to use circles.

EXTENSION: What more can you do with this project? Perhaps you partner up with a teacher in another district or country and arrange an art exchange. If you both use the same assignment, comparing and contrasting the art can be worthwhile.  

So yes, 21st Century Math Projects can get artsy!

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