Escher? If there is an artist whose prints are in the collective imagination of many Europeans. Which is the Dutch Maurits Cornelis Escher (1898-1972). His drawings of impossible conceptions have had for decades an enormous power of attraction for all audiences. Although the engraver was not very skilled in mathematics, some of his creations are representations of notions of those exact sciences such as perspective, tessellations. With the concept of infinity or other optical illusions.
It was the year 2007, when the first international exhibition of the works of the great artist arrived in Madrid. Some elementary Melillean teachers saw in it an opportunity. Why not use Escher to teach mathematics at its center? And they got down to work. Its main objective was to promote a different approach to mathematics through engravings . To give their students a more mathematical view of the world around them.
Thus, the Con-Ciencia project aims to unleash the imagination of the participants, students in the third cycle of primary school. Around the concepts set out in the artist’s work. To do this, first of all, there is an exhibition of about fifteen of his prints and some explanatory panels to introduce the students to the different mathematical notions to be treated. Next, and organized by teams, they must carry out a treasure hunt with the available means panels, books and computer. For solving a mathematical enigma that arises to them, putting into practice the acquired knowledge.
Finally, the students work on the concept of tessellations, and can unleash their creativity. Disciples of the Dutch artist. Using computer software tools such as GeoGebra, participants can create their own symmetrical. Tessellated works, which they can later print and hang in the classroom as a souvenir of the experience.
A remarkable aspect of the Con-Ciencia Project is that the universality of the issues it deals with transcends any frontier. Therefore, the organizers believe in the replicability of the same and recommend any teacher to try the experience with their students. It only takes time and desire, since you can find all the works of Escher here. As well as the exercises on tessellations, which are available in the following link.
According to the organizer José Ramón Cortiñas, the experience has been very useful and “has made it possible for children to learn to look with a mathematical eye at everything that surrounds them”. In this sense, Con-Ciencia meets one of its main objectives, but not everything ends there. The teachers involved comment that the experience also gives an important lesson to the group of teachers : “we must never underestimate the interest that something like this can arouse the students and we must take advantage of the surprise factor and the fascination that this type of activities bring in our daily educational task “.
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