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Beautiful Symmetry

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Welcome to PLIX Beautiful Symmetry! Explore a branch of mathematics that's profound, yet accessible to creative learners.

๐Ÿฅฐย For all ages! ๐Ÿ•ย 1โ€“1.5 Hours ๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ‘งโ€๐Ÿ‘ฆย up to 15 Participants ๐ŸŽย 1โ€“2 Facilitators ๐ŸŽจย Craft Materials ๐Ÿ’ปย Scratch Coding

Beautiful Symmetry adopts symmetry as a foundation around which to create works of art and functional materials in physical and digital formats.

Workshop Prompts & Example Gallery

Symmetry found in the natural world.
Symmetry found in the natural world.

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

Prompts from PLIX

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Play with Patterns Design a textile, gift wrap,ย or wallpaper pattern using customized stamps.
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Organic Collage Build a sculpture or tapestryย using symmetrical elements found in the environment.
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Forms and Functions Explore the built and natural worlds to capture imagery of the way symmetry provides form and function.
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Model the infiniteย  Make patterns with algorithms (in Scratch, in a spreadsheet, or on paper) or by printing continuous patterns with cylindrical roller stamps.

PLIX Community Remixes

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Snowflakes Make snowflake designs with folded paper in this activity by Francesca Passiglia (Greenfield, MA).
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Check out more examples and experiences from other librarians on the PLIX Forum Beautiful Symmetry space

Materials

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Supply Kit

Below you'll find some materials that we've found work well for this activity, but it's not necessary to have them all! The prompt you'll explore determines what materials you'll want to have on hand.

Cut & assembled Beautiful Symmetry zines 1 per participant
Paper, with or without grids; generate a wide variety of styles at Griddzly
Large sheets/rolls of butcher paper for wrapping or wallpaper
Markers, colored pencils, or crayons
Scissors
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.
Laptops/computer access if using Scratch or making spreadsheet art
Optional: PLIX Beautiful Symmetry Pattern Grid & Tiles tiles printed & cut, with base grids printed 1 set per participant

Printouts

Zine โ†“

PLIX-BeauSym-Zine_v0.1.pdf738.0KB
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PLIX zines are a supplementary resource for patrons and librarians to refer to. Use this guide to cut and assemble them on 8.5x11" paper.

Grid Paper โ†“

PLIX-BeauSymm-Grids-Letter.pdf381.2KB

Facilitation

Playtest and Plan

Remember: Thereโ€™s no one right way to prepare for a workshop. Use these steps as a loose guideline for planning to run this activity.

  1. Choose one of our prompts, or come up with a prompt that suits your library community. Our activity guides are for getting you startedโ€”feel free to change or create new design elements to suit your local community! All PLIX activity guides are designed for a minimum of 1โ€“2 facilitators
  2. Gather materials and print out the zine.
  3. 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. Guide to Making Activity Examples โ†’
  4. Try the activity with your patrons. Set a date and time. Easily promote your workshop with our editable Beautiful Symmetry flyer template โ†’
  5. Populate your workshop space with diverse example projects. Create and play together!
  6. Reflect on what youโ€™ve done and consider doing a remix!

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Share the loveโ€”Did you come up with your own prompt? Weโ€™d love to hear from you! Share your ideas on the PLIX Forum or via our PLIX Remix report form.

Facilitation Tips

Since there are many ways to explore symmetry, patrons may need some guidance in how or where to get started. When facilitating this activity, we encourage you to support a tinkering mindset, and consider the following to culture a creative learning environment. Check out our general PLIX Facilitation Techniques โ†’

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๐ŸŒ 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.

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๐ŸŒŠ 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

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Dive deeper into creative learning facilitation with our Self-Guided Mini Course. Itโ€™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:

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