A math art project is a great way to encourage kids who love numbers to get creative and artistic kids to think about how mathematics and art work together. This rotational symmetry art project is just the ticket.
As you will see the results of experimenting with rotational symmetry combines grooviness and exactness (such a good combo, wouldn’t you say?). Little mathematicians and young artists will learn about geometry and how symmetry creates patterns. Depending on your child’s age, you can decide how much you want to explain about radial symmetry and orientation concepts. I have always had to learn about math and geometry alongside my child because the last time I had a math class was in high school! But I think that is proof that you don’t have to be fluent in mathematical principles to enjoy the gorgeous results of combining math and art.
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Before we go any further, I’d like to tell you that this rotational symmetry art activity is from my ebook, STEAM Kids. My co-authors and I have collected 52 projects to inspire your kids to tinker, invent, create and play. Go here to learn more about STEAM Kids.
Ok, on to the art. Let’s get ready to
What you need:
- Paper. We created our rotational symmetry art in our art journals. I’ve mentioned before how we absolutely LOVE our mixed media paper journals. Seriously. The. Best.
- Art supplies as desired. We loved using watercolors (this is the best set for kids), markers, and colored pencils.
- Push pin
- Enthusiastic children
1. Gather supplies.
2. Draw a shape on the cardboard. It can be regular or irregular.
3. Cut out shape.
4. Place extra piece of cardboard under your paper.
5. Place cardboard shape on top of paper.
6. Using the push pin, tack the cardboard shape to the paper. The cardboard under your paper will protect your work surface and help to secure the shape during the rotation.
7. Trace the shape.
8. Turn your shape a quarter turn. Trace the shape again.
9. Repeat quarter turn rotation until you have traced the shape four times in total.
10. Remove push pin and cardboard.
11. Decorate as desired.
You can see that the variations are endless!
One thing to keep in mind as you are doing this project is that the object kids create will have rotational symmetry – meaning that it will have the same shape after a certain degree turn. But because we are not using compasses and rulers and are generally being free-handed in our drawings, these shapes are not exact examples of objects with rotational symmetry.
You can explain that a circle has infinite rotational symmetry but that a shape created by tracing and rotating a shape four times as this project demonstrates will have only 4th degree rotational symmetry. As the object makes one full turn, it will be an exact replica of itself four times. Have the kids try it and see how exact their shapes are! It’s all a learning process and the degree (pun!) to which you want to delve into mathematical concepts is up to you.
Watch the video!
We absolutely adore math art projects as a great tool in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art/design, math) education. You will find 52 amazing STEAM projects, including math art, creative science ideas, captivating engineering projects and more in STEAM Kids!
More math art projects:
Symmetry paper trick (brain teaser!)