Pattern Blocks on Pi Day

I’ll be offering a workshop for middle school and high school teachers on March 14 at the American Institute for Mathematics in San Jose. My topic is pattern blocks:

<img alt="" height="76" src="data: 

Pattern blocks are ubiquitous in elementary schools, but they’re not commonly seen in middle school or high school. Yet, they do offer plenty of interesting curricular opportunities. I will present an encyclopedic tour of the activities and lessons they suggest:

  • Pattern block puzzles
  • A fun introduction to angle measurement
  • Finding and classifying all the symmetries of a pattern-block-tiled regular 3-, 6-, and 12-gon
  • Pattern block tilings of the plane, leading to more general explorations (figuring out a notation for pattern block tilings, using that as a springboard towards a search for all the Archimedean tilings, plus some pedagogical brainstorming on how to use triangle and quadrilateral tilings to introduce many ideas in basic geometry)
  • Pattern block trains (a problem about rate of change that starts easy and gets very challenging)
  • And, if there is time, a brand new pattern block perimeter optimization challenge.

In honor of π day, we’ll also explore “perimeter-π” and “area-π” for regular n-gons. A full analysis requires basic right triangle trig, but even without that, pattern blocks can help us find perimeter-π for a hexagon, and area-π for a dodecagon.

This will be big fun, so if you’re anywhere near San Jose, you should come!

American Institute for Mathematics
600 East Brokaw Road
San Jose CA 95112

March 14, 2015

8:30 Small breakfast
9:00 Start of workshop
9:26 π moment (3/14/15 9:26:53)
12:00 Lunch

And it’s all absolutely free!


PS: If you’re not in the San Jose area, you can find most of these ideas in my Geometry Labs book. (free download)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s