SchoolArts Magazine

March 2018

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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26 MARCH 2018 SchoolArts H ave you ever heard of a tri- hexaflexagon? Combining a rt with mathematics, my sixth-grade students cre- ated these intriguing mathematical c onstructions. What in the world is a trihexaflexagon, you might ask? Let's break it down: The "tri" prefix represents the three faces (what you might call sides) of the construction. The "hexa" indicates it has six edges (again, what some might refer to as sides). In other words, it's a hexagon. "Flexagon" simply indicates it is a polygon that flexes. Therefore, a trihexaflexagon is a three-faced, six- edged, flexible polygon. Only two faces can be exposed at any time as the third is buried inside. By flexing the con - struction, the third face emerges. Each f lex not only exposes a different face, but also rotates the segments of the visible images kaleidoscopically, creat - ing a total of six different designs. Inspiration from Memory My inspiration to incorporate trihexaflexagons into my art cur- riculum began more than twenty y ears ago, when my son, then in the fourth grade, became fascinated with mathematical games. His research revived a memory from my own childhood, when Scientific American magazine was always in my home. Articles about flexagons, with build - ing instructions, had been published i n the magazine's Mathematical Games column written by Martin Gardner. My brother and I eagerly fol - lowed the directions. As I shared this m emory with my son, I again became intrigued with the flexagons and rec- ognized a strong art connection. As a r esult, they became a curriculum staple for me, continuing long after my son's interest had waned. Set aside your math fears. With pre- The Art and Science of Phyllis Levine Brown E L E M E N T A R Y TRI HEXA FLEXA GONS By flexing the trihexaflexagon paper construction, a third face emerges.

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