Pop Art: Making Mathematics Popular: Leicha Bragg Shares an Effective Activity for Integrating Visual Arts, Technology and Mathematics. Such an Approach Has the Potential to Enhance Students' Visual Reasoning and Spatial Ability by Using Multiple Perspectives of Learning
Bragg, Leicha, Australian Primary Mathematics Classroom
One of the challenges faced by many mathematics teachers is igniting the students' interest. Marrying the two wonderfully rich curriculum areas of mathematics and art gives students a seemingly unlimited range of opportunities to explore and develop their understanding of key concepts.
This article presents an activity to introduce Year 5 and 6 students to the Pop Art movement and one artist in particular, Andy Warhol. The mathematical foci are tessellation and angles. The aim is to develop the students' understanding of the principles of tessellation, especially when manipulating quadrilaterals. The students skew an image either vertically or horizontally and repeat the image across the screen. Trial and error assists in understanding the subtleties between skewing an image by 30 or 45 degrees. With the increasing push to incorporate information technology in the classroom, this activity does so in a meaningful way. All that is needed is a scanner, colour printer and computer equipped with Microsoft Paint, a program found on most PCs running Windows.
In the build up to the lesson, ask students to bring various food labels from home: encourage a selection of different types, e.g. cereal packets, snack food, can labels. Introduce the children to Andy Warhol and his style of art. A few useful examples of Warhol's work are available at http://www.allposters.com. This lesson is based on emulating an Andy Warhol painting. Present the students with Warhol's Campbell's Soup, a painting of one can of soup. (Images of Warhol's work can be easily found on the Internet or in art history books.) Discuss and compare this with 100 Cans, a painting of 100 cans of Campbell's soup in a 10 by 10 array. Prior work in the area of tessellation may assist in drawing out this concept during the discussion. The depth of discussion regarding the artist and his work is an individual choice. A brief overview of Pop Art and Andy Warhol is provided at the end of this article along with a reproducible step by step computer guide for the students.
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Give students an A4 piece of paper. Allow them to decide how many times to repeat/copy the label; a minimum of six reproductions is necessary to generate the desired effect. The students fold the paper into appropriate segments. The paper folding appears to assist in their planning. The students create a hand drawn copy of the label in one of the folded rectangles. When the students have finished one section, they scan the hand drawn label on the computer (Figures 1, 2 and 3). This picture is saved to the computer hard drive for use in the next lesson. As a safety precaution, always ensure that the students make a back up copy of their scanned pictures. The students will begin to realise that labels with a coloured background and detailed writing are quite time consuming to reproduce. If time is a constraint, you might suggest the selection of less detailed or plain background labels.
After the completion of the hand-drawn Pop Art, the students are ready to move on to the computer generated Pop Art. The following is a step by step guide to assist the students in creating their own Pop Art on the computer.
The finished product
A colour printer is essential for creating the desired dramatic effect. Mount the hand drawn Pop Art alongside the computer-generated print on poster size card. The mounting is an important aspect in finishing off the product. I have found it a valuable exercise to gather the students on the floor and hold their work against different coloured mounts. The students have a real sense of which colours work to enhance their art and which do not.
At the time of undertaking this activity the school art show was on the horizon. It was important for the students to feel comfortable and happy with the art they displayed. All the students chose to display their Warhol Pop Art (Figures 4, 5 and 6). …