Welcome to the most awesome math art holiday project you can imagine: make a Christmas tree out of a Sierpinski fractal triangle.
Okay, I realize there is a lot to unpack in that statement. Let’s start with something easier to grasp. This math art project is a great STEAM activity for kids to do at home, and especially in the classroom, where kids working together can craft a huge fractal tree.
For the uninitiated… a Sierpinski triangle is a mathematically generated pattern in which self-similar shapes are repeated across different scales in a never-ending feedback loop. (I think I got that right.) In layman’s terms, the same shape is repeated in different sizes to infinity.
I contributed a a Sierpinski triangle drawing project to the book STEAM Kids Christmas, and now I am going to encourage you to take that drawing and turn it into a 3D fractal triangle!
TIP: we are having a huge sale on the STEAM kids books. You can get our Christmas STEAM coloring book full of more math art projects free when you buy the STEAM Kids Christmas book. Head over to the STEAM Kids website for details. Sale ends 11/21/16.
Here’s a peek at the 2D Sierpinski Christmas tree:
Okay, on to 3D fractal math art awesomeness.
Note: although we did this project as a Christmas tree, you can do it any time of year without a holiday theme.
What you need:
- Our tetrahedron template. Download it here. You will need 16 tetrahedrons to make the basic tree.
- Paper in any color you wish.
Print out the template.
Cut out the tetrahedron, fold along the solid lines, fold up into the 3D shape.
Tuck in the flaps and tape edges.
Tape together 4 tetrahedrons to make one large tetrahedron.
Tape 4 large tetrahedrons into a larger tetrahedron. This tetrahedron will be composed of 16 tetrahedrons.
Congratulations. You just made your first Sierpinski fractal!
If you are doing this as a holiday project you can top it off with a star. TIP: in the [book] there are instructions for making a fractal star!
Watch the video and experience the magic.
Don’t forget to do more awesome STEAM projects, including beautiful math art projects and designs throughout the year. My team has an amazing resource I know you will love.