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A World of Symmetry

Project URL

How it works:
This 2-3 week unit plan is designed to build upon the knowledge that students have of calculating the area and perimeter of quadrilaterals. The goals of this unit include: Identifying four basic forms of symmetry, recognizing symmetry in everyday objects and life forms, recognizing symmetrical patterns in cultural art, and creating symmetrical designs.

Week One focuses on the mathematics of symmetry. Week Two focuses on the application of symmetry to its presence in culture, science, and the arts, including nature, the folk and craft arts, and industrial design. Week Three features a student discussion and a teacher-designed exam. There is a lot of flexibility in adapting the lessons to individual needs, curriculum, and grade levels. Each student assignment includes background information, websites, instructional directions, and a rubric.

Standards addressed:  
Students develop mathematical reasoning, identify symmetrical patterns, increase language skills by speaking and listening, and respond to and analyze works of art.

Materials used: 
Each student will need access to a computer with Internet capabilities, a recent version of the Netscape or Internet Explorer browser, and PowerPoint software. Necessary materials are graph paper, ruler, and pencil, along with math manipulatives such as a protractor, compass, pattern block set, and dot or graph paper. The teacher will need transparent pattern blocks, graph paper, and water-base markers, along with an overhead projector to support and reinforce the online activities.

The students:
The students attend grades 6 - 8. They represent a cross section of diversity and academic abilities. They participate individually or in groups both in and out of the classroom. Before beginning this unit, students should be familiar with the common names and characteristics of three- to eight-sided polygons and how to calculate the area and perimeter of a rectangle, square, and triangle. They should also be experienced with using a ruler, protractor, and compass to make linear and angular measurements.

Overall value:
The use of Internet sites in A World of Symmetry reinforces and enriches mathematical tasks and visually demonstrates the application of geometric skills. Students are engaged in observing, reacting to, and creating symmetrical designs found in their environment and culture. The Internet provides the teacher as well as the student with anywhere, anytime learning.

The teacher will need to become familiar with the material provided at each website before using this unit with students.

About the teacher:
Robert Calotta has been teaching grades K-8 for nearly 30 years. He has served as an adjunct professor and a consultant in the areas of
educational research, computer technology, curriculum, and professional development. Currently, he teaches students how software and the Internet can be integrated into the curriculum to support and enrich their educational needs.


Subject Areas: 

Grade Levels: 


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