This week I’ve been doing a fun 3d printing project with my younger son who is learning trig (from Art of Problem Solving’s Prealgebra book). We have used 3d printing to explore 2d geometry before – see some of the projects here, for example:
3d Printing ideas to explore math with kids
Exploring Annie Perkins’s Cairo Pentagons with kids
Evelyn Lamb’s Pentagons are Everything!
This week I had my son create, code, and then print some simple 2d shapes – the project combines ideas from trig, geometry, and algebra.
Here’s his description of the first shape -> a 3-4-5 triangle:
Here’s the 2nd shape – a 7-6-3 triangle. Creating this shape shows how ideas from introductory trigonometry come into play:
Finally, here’s a regular pentagon that we made yesterday. Unfortunately we made a mistake in the code for the print – mixing up a Sin() and a Cos(), but here is explanation of how to make the shape is correct:
I’d forgotten how useful 3d printing can be as a tool to explore 2d geometry – this week was a happy reminder of how fun those activities can be!
I had an opportunity to visit Laura Taalman at ICERM today who made me a copy of her latest creation. I couldn’t wait to get home to share it with my younger son:
He had some interesting ideas about what the shape was in the last video. Now I shared where the slices came from and had him explain how Taalman’s creation worked:
This is such a fun way for kids to experience shapes from a different point of view. I’m really excited to see if we can create some similar objects to play with!
Today we are revisiting an old project on a really neat shape -> the permutohedron:
“A fun shape for kids to explore – the permutohedron
I learned about this shape thanks to Allen Knutson at Cornell – he included a fun pic of a large permutohedron in the comment of the blog post above:
He also pointed me to a 3d print on Thingiverse that we used in the last project and again today:
“Permutahedron” by PFF000 on Thingiverse
So, I started today by having the boys describe the 3d printed shape. We have two versions – a larger one that unfortunately broke a little and a smaller – but in one piece! – version. Here’s what the boys had to say about the shapes:
Next I had the boys read the Wikipedia page on the permutohedron for about 10 min and then we discussed some of the ideas that they thought were interesting:
Finally, we built the 2-D permutohedron and showed how it was embedded in a 3d grid:
Definitely a fun project and it is always great to be able to have kids hold interesting math ideas in their hands!
My younger son is studying trig right now and I thought it would be fun for him to play around with some 3d curves made with trig functions.
I showed him how to use Mathematica’s ParametricPlot3D function and then just let him make some shapes on his own. He settled on a curve that looked like this:
Here’s the code just in case it is not legible in the video:
After he made the curve we printed it – it was really fun to see him working on the print when it was finished. I wish the picture was better!
When everything was finished I asked him to tell me about the curve. I’d not seen the code before and didn’t know there was a stray Cos[x] in it. Talking about that piece of the code led to a great conversation about elementary trig functions (totally by accident!):
Finally, I had him talk about the 3d printed shape:
I really enjoyed this project today – it is fun to use 3d printing to explore so many different areas of math.
Last week I saw a really neat tweet shared by Alex Kontorovich:
I ended up buying Bulatov’s piece from Shapeways and it came today. Here’s a quick video look at it:
When the kids got home from school I asked them to take a look at it and share their thoughts.
Here’s what my younger son had to say about the shape:
Here’s what my older son had to say:
Last week we were exploring volumes of various solids in the calculus course I’m teaching my son. That subject is a great opportunity to use 3d printing to enhance the course.
In fact, this old video from Brooklyn Tech about 3d printing was one of my first exposures to using 3d printing in math education:
Over the last week we printed 3 different shapes. Tonight I used these shapes as props to go back and review some of the volume concepts we’ve been studying. The ideas were new to my son and he hasn’t quite mastered all of them yet, so the review was productive. The videos are a bit longer than usual as we review some of the concepts, though.
Here’s the first shape: y = Sin(x) revolved around the x-axis:
The next set of shapes were not volumes of curves rotated around the x-axis, but rather shapes where the slices were squares:
Finally, we looked at the curve from x = 1 to x = 5 rotated around the y-axis. Here my son remembered how to calculate this volume by looking at the slices parallel to the x-axis, but struggled a bit with when the slices were cylindrical shells – so we spent a long time on that 2nd part.
I’m happy that we have the opportunity to explore these shapes with our 3d printer – it definitely is incredible to be able to hold shapes like these in your hand!
Saw a great tweet from Laura Taalman over the weekend”
That shape was just “discovered” and is discussed on this New Scientist article:
oops – that tweet gives me a good picture, but the article itself is behind a paywall. Here are two free articles:
Gizmodo’s article on the Scutoid
The article in Nature introducing the shape
Last night I had the boys play with the shape (and I did not tell them what it was).
Here’s what my older son thought about it – sorry that it is a little hard to see the shape in the beginning. I add more light around 1:00 in:
Here’s what my younger son thought:
I thought it was interesting to hear that both boys thought that this shape would not appear in nature. I’ll have them