The Sum of All Technically Beautiful Things

tb-sam-shah-eh-paperThis year’s inaugural exhibition in the Carol Shen Gallery, Technically Beautiful: The Intersection of Math and Art, invited viewers to consider the wealth of opportunities that blending disciplines provides. We are complicated thinkers, we humans. We employ a variety of intelligences in every cerebral exploration. The artwork in Technically Beautiful supplied inspiration to explore how different parts of our brain connect to solve problems and/or manifest creativity. As a community we took advantage of this opportunity fully. Lessons, activities and discussion engaged in the gallery spilled into classrooms and common spaces. Here is an overview of how we intersected math and art and found technical beauty.


lt-tb-3rd-openerLOWER SCHOOL

  • Inspired by Paul Salomon, Kindergarteners created their own Sangaku out of felt. Ms. Danforth’s geometry students worked with kindergarteners from KMC to create truly unique Sangaku.
  • First Graders built collaborative sculptures in paper after studying the Oakes Twins “Matchstick Dome”.
  • Second and Third grade thinkers devised building manuals for George Hart’s Anemone sculpture noting the repeating patterns of geometric couplings throughout the sculpture.


tb-amy-hand-7thgMIDDLE SCHOOL

  • 7th grade mathematicians explored a wide variety of concepts from algorithms to cellular automata through the art. After all of that mental heavy lifting, they found time to simply “play” with the activity sets and thus define their own mathematical “rules”.
  • Using the artwork as a launching pad for inspired thinking, Katharine Hill’s students wrote fictional pieces incorporating math into their stories.   


tb-tori-gibbs-us-studentsUPPER SCHOOL 

  • The Upper School math team came out in full force. Students of algebra, geometry and calculus were asked to consider the artwork with the eyes of an artist and with regard to their respective areas of study. Mathematics and visual art merged through guided viewing, discussion and activities. Read about Mr. Shah’s experience with the exhibition here.
  • Students in Lewis Minsky’s Computer Science Fundamentals course considered how to use code to create a three dimensional object. They then recreated Paul Salomon’s Sangaku and similar designs in while learning the programming language “Processing”. 
  • The US Art Club, led by Diana Steelman and Lia Bitonto, created and maintained the stunning display of cellular automata that lived outside of the US office this fall.



  • Ryan and Trevor Oakes (aka The Oakes Twins) visited Packer for a day of inquiry and exploration in math, physics and sculpture. The Oakes Twins spent time with students of each of the three disciplines, engaged in discussion and action. Filled with inspiration, Eric Baylin’s students created these sculptures when they returned to the studio.


Math Art kits created by Sam Shah, Brendan Kinnell and Chris Natale made their way through all three divisions. In addition to the “Cellular Automata”, “Quarter the Cross” projects mentioned above, activities included tessellations, designing geometric patterns with common objects, plus a variety of other creative offerings. Teachers and students used the kits and their corresponding activities in their classrooms. See the math kit here.

Note: If you visited the Technically Beautiful gallery and have something to share about your experience, please email me and I will add your contribution to this post. – Liz Titone