Math Scavenger Hunt – Tessellations


We don’t do the whole “Black Friday” thing. Instead we go to a park or to visit friends or just do nothing around the house. Anything goes, as long as we stay away from stores and major roads.

This year we went to the NC Museum of Art to see the Worlds of M.C. Escher exhibit. Next year I think we’ll go to a park. Not because the exhibit was bad. It was amazing, beautiful, captivating, dreamy, enchanting, fantastic and all the way to zazzy. But it was also packed since hundreds of people had the same idea to enjoy great art instead of Black Friday specials at the nearest big box store.

Anyway, as we were standing in line to get the tickets, I explained to the Rocket Boy a bit about who M.C. Escher was and how woodblock prints are made. And as we were standing in line to the exhibit, I challenged him to find some cool mathematical ideas – tessellations, fractals, infinity, symmetry, and impossible structures. Yep, that’s a long list.


The day after the exhibit, we were on a hunt for tessellations. Turns out, they are everywhere! Also, turns out, that some things that seem like tessellations at first, are not really. Not every pattern or design tessellates.


Tessellations in nature seem different from the ones in man-made objects. How? Why?


Squares seem to be very popular tessellating shapes. Why?


Tessellations? It depends on how we look at it.


A trip to a furniture store a few days later turned into a hunt for tessellations.


And so did a trip to the flea market. Along the way we noticed that some of the most interested tessellating patterns can be found in textiles.


Went to the library to pick up some books on quilting (textiles rich in tessellating patterns). Saw this book cover – tessellations in books!


A minute to win it game – can you find 3 tessellating patterns in the house? Sometimes the answer is right under your feet.


Mosaics – beautiful for yet another reason.


Yes, a trip to Pier 1 can be awesome!


Ah, how about this beauty! Tessellation over a curved surface.


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