Beautiful Symmetry Alternate Layout

Welcome to PLIX Beautiful Symmetry! Explore a branch of mathematics that's profound, yet accessible to creative learners. Beautiful Symmetry adopts symmetry as a foundation around which to create works of art and functional materials in physical and digital formats.

At a Glance

🥰 For all ages!

👩‍👧‍👦 10–15 participants

🍎 1–2 Facilitators

🕐 1–1.5 hours

🛍 $2–$4*

*This activity uses craft and recycled materials!

Patterns created by hand-carving potato stamps.
Patterns created by hand-carving potato stamps.
Unicode creating patterns in spreadsheets!
Unicode creating patterns in spreadsheets!
Symmetry found in the natural world.
Symmetry found in the natural world.
A radial symmetry drawing interface using Scratch.
A radial symmetry drawing interface using Scratch.

Workshop Prompts for Facilitation

Here are a few Beautiful Symmetry workshop prompts that we love—and we encourage you to come up with your own!

Design a textile, gift wrap, or wallpaper pattern using customized stamps.
Explore the built and natural worlds to capture imagery of the way symmetry provides form and function.
Build a sculpture or tapestry using symmetrical elements found in the environment.
Model the infinite by making patterns with algorithms (in Scratch, in a spreadsheet, or on paper) or printing continuous patterns with cylindrical roller stamps.
Explore what other librarians have done on the PLIX Forum Beautiful Symmetry space, and share some of your own prompts and reflections!

Supply Kit

Here are some materials we’ve enjoyed using for this activity. It’s not necessary to have them all. Your chosen prompt will guide your list.

Folded & assembled Beautiful Symmetry zines (one per participant) Download here ↓
Paper (blank or with grids; generate your own with Griddzly)
Large paper sheets/rolls (for gift wrap or wallpaper)
Markers, colored pencils, or crayons
Stencils/cookie cutters
Stamp pads and rubber stamps (or erasers/potatoes/sponges to carve)
For roller stamps: paper towel or toilet paper tubes and items to attach (rubber bands, foam pieces, etc.)
For using Scratch or for making spreadsheet art: Laptops/computer access
Optional: PLIX Beautiful Symmetry Pattern Grid & Tiles: tiles printed & cut, with base grids printed: one set per participant

Playtest and Plan

Choose one of our prompts, or come up with a prompt that suits your library community.

👉🏽 Our activity guides are for getting you started—feel free to change or create new design elements to suit your local community!

Gather materials and print out the zine.
Make an example project. Try it out with friends and colleagues.

Thoughtfully incomplete, good examples feature a variety of approaches and starting points. Use them to inspire learners to make something uniquely their own.

👉🏾 Learn more about the art of the example in our PLIX Guide to Making Activity Examples

Try the activity with your patrons. Set a date and time.

👉🏼 Easily promote the workshop with our ready-made graphics! <link>

Populate your workshop space with diverse example projects. Create and play together!

Facilitation Tips

Since there are many ways to explore symmetry, patrons may need some guidance in how or where to get started. We encourage you to support a tinkering mindset to foster a creative learning environment:

Facilitation Techniques to try with Beautiful Symmetry↓

🌐 Think globally, inspire locally.

Consider having examples on-hand that reflect the cultural diversity of your community. Symmetrical patterns appear in a wide range of textiles, ceramics, wall patterns, tapestries, and from every continent and islands around the world.

🌊 Know the depth.

While the concept of symmetry and pattern is something learners often encounter in preschool, the domain has a very high ceiling in mathematics research. You won't want to dive into the technical jargon, but it may be helpful to point out to participants to areas where the field of symmetry is relevant: facial recognition, meshes, 3-D modeling, algorithmic art

👉🏿 Check out more PLIX Facilitation Techniques

Play with PLIX—Try out PLIX activities and learn facilitation techniques our Make’n’Meet workshops. Can’t find what you’re looking for? Make a suggestion! 🗳️
Share the love—Did you come up with your own prompt? We’d love to hear from you! Share your ideas on the PLIX Forum or via our PLIX Remix report form.
Dive deeper into creative learning facilitation with our Self-Guided Mini Course. It’ll also help you get started running your first PLIX workshop.

About PLIX Beautiful Symmetry

This activity was developed in collaboration with Jean Slavkovsky (Malden Public Library, Massachusetts), Claudia Haines (Homer Public Library, Alaska), and Alex Berke (MIT Media Lab graduate student) as part of the PLIX Co-Design program, in which Media Lab researchers team up with public librarians to create new PLIX programming.

Other ways to engage with the PLIX Beautiful Symmetry activity: