Dr. Eugenia Cheng, musical mathematician and scientist in residence in liberal arts at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, led Parker’s third annual March “Math”ness celebration with a Morning Ex focusing on the concept of patterns.
Dr. Cheng began her speech on patterns by pointing out the pervasiveness of patterns everywhere in our world, whether through a zebra’s stripes, a beehive’s honeycomb structure or historical examples across cultures. “What does it matter?” she asked the audience. Cheng showed that humans use patterns to understand things (e.g., occurrences in nature like lenticular clouds), as well as using to help solve problems by either finishing or recognizing a certain pattern. As Cheng led the students through an investigation of a 10x10 box of numbers from 0 to 99, students saw a plethora of patterns and how these can be helpful.
Continuing on with the ubiquity of patterns, Cheng showed patterns popping up in previous topics she’s discussed at Parker, like symmetry, fractals and shapes. She then described one of her favorite things about patterns: tessellations, an arrangement of shapes that fit so closely and perfectly together that there are no gaps or overlaps. Cheng next explained how patterns appear in music and poetry, using old limericks. To conclude, Cheng showed a math limerick by Leigh Mercer (shown below). If you can, try and ask one our student experts for help!
Parker’s March “Math”ness is a month-long celebration to spark and support a love of math. In the coming weeks, be on the lookout for ideas on how to continue student March “Math”ness beyond the school day. And don’t miss more on Dr. Cheng’s future Morning Ex experiences.
Click here to follow along with the math fun at home.