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# PROJECT 1: TESSELLATIONS – MATH OR ART?

NAME: ______________________PER:_____

Background:
Maurits Cornelis Escher was born in Leeuwarden, Holland in 1898. In his lifetime, he created 448 lithographs, wood
cuts, and wood engravings and over 2000 drawings and sketches. In his work, he played with various mathematical
ideas including architecture, perspective, impossible spaces, and the regular division of the plane (or transformations).
Among his greatest admirers were mathematicians, who recognized in Escher’s work an extraordinary visualization of
mathematical principles. And he did so without any formal training in mathematics beyond secondary school.

Tessellations, or regular divisions of the plane, are arrangements of closed shapes that completely cover the plane
without overlapping and without leaving gaps. For shapes to fill the plane without overlaps or gaps, their angles, when
arranged around a point, must have measures that add up to exactly 360 degrees. Typically, the shapes making up a
tessellation are polygons or similar regular shapes (like square tiles used on floors). Escher exploited these basic patterns
in his tessellations, applying reflections, translations, and rotations to obtain a greater variety of patterns. He also
“distorted” these shapes to form animals, birds, and other figures. These distortions had to obey the three, four, or six-
fold symmetry of the underlying pattern in order to preserve the tessellation.

Project Objective: Students will create a tessellation, math overlay, and written response that demonstrates their
knowledge of the properties of geometric transformations, such as translations, rotations, and reflections.

Tessellation Poster Requirements:
 Use one or more transformations to create an Escher-esque Tessellation on 11"x17’ paper
 You will need to make a template to trace.
 A computer program can be used to draw the template.
 Photoshop can be used to create the tessellation, as well.
 You must “see” an image or images in your tessellation tile and color your tile(s) to reflect this image. This can
be an animal, person, or an object. If you are really struggling, abstract designs will be accepted.

 Take a photo of each step you took to make your tile.
 Upload these photos to your DP with a description of each step. (i.e. Step 1: Choose a starting polygon – Square
or Triangle or Hexagon?.... Show a photo of the blank polygon alongside or below this step.)
 This upload is due: October 3
rd
by midnight.

Math Overlay
 Use a transparency and a vis a vis marker to complete this.
 Using a vis a vis marker, trace one of the tiles – this is your pre-image- and label it with points A, B, and C that
are recognizable points in your tile that you could find on other tiles. While keeping your transparency in place,
trace one more tile (your image tile) and label it with A’, B’, and C’. While keeping your transparency in place,
trace one more tile (your second image tile) and label it with A’’, B’’ and C’’.
 Use appropriate notation (rotation, translation, reflection/glide-reflection) and accurate measurements to
describe how the tile moved from the pre-image to the image.

Written Response Type a 1-page response that specifically answers each of the questions below:
1. What is the idea/theme behind your tessellation?
2. What polygon(s) did you start with and how did you alter it (what transformations did you use)?
3. What transformations describe how your pre-image tile moved to create your two image tiles (math overlay)?

Tessellations Project → Planning Worksheet
Use one or more tiles to create an Escher-esque Tessellation on 11”x17" paper. You must create a template based on
one of the methods below. You will tessellate an 8.5”x11” sheet of paper (standard computer paper) and we will
photocopy this. This way you can protect yourself in case you make a mistake on coloring or at any other point along
the way.

You can use the computer to create your template. You may also use Photoshop to create your tessellation, although
you must be able to find your own tutorials and instruction to complete this in the allotted time (being comfortable with
Photoshop tools is important!).

Consider the following when planning your tessellation:
Do you want to use one polygon or more than one?
How complex do you want to make your original figure?
Do you want to use one transformation or a combination to tessellate your figure?
How are you going to use color to alter your tessellation and create more patterns?
What is the idea or theme that you want to express in your piece?
What is the title of your piece?

Expectations for completing work in class:
You must use class time productively – this is part of your grade. Focus on your own work, yet draw inspirations from
others. Feel free to discuss ideas, but do not spend time talking about things that do not relate to class. Dig in and get
this done well.

Due dates:
DP UPDATE due by 11:59pm Monday, 10/6/14 –Provide a brief description of our project and what your theme is for
your tessellation. Upload photos for each step you used to create your tessellation tile and write out the step next to or
above the photo. I recommend creating a separate page for this project under your Geometry heading, as you will have
a couple of posts for this project. Submit the link to the exact page where this is via the google form on Caitlyn’s
website.

8.5”x11” tessellated page to photocopy due BY end of class on Monday, 10/6/14 –Hand in your 8.5x11 sheet with your
tile tessellated on the page. This must be done well, otherwise I will not photocopy. My intent is for you to have
photocopies of this for the weekend, so you can color over the weekend, if you haven’t finished this in class by the end
of Friday.

1
st
Draft (typed 1 page printed) Written Response to Questions 1,2, and 4 due Tuesday 10/7/14 for peer work in class.
A draft demonstrates fully fleshed ideas on which you can receive quality feedback. I will be checking these. Junk in
equals junk out. Don’t expect to gain much from peer work if you come unprepared.

Math Overlay Due end of class Friday, 10/10/14 – I will provide instruction in class on how to complete this and you will
be expected to have your completed tessellation to use in class to complete the overlay.

DP Update due Friday, 10/10/14 at END OF CLASS – Under the heading DRAFT TESSELLATION PROJECT, upload your 2
nd

Draft of Written Response with a photo of the tessellation and your math overlay to your DP Geometry
page/tessellation project page. We will do a virtual peer share critique over the weekend, so you can revise and submit

Poster/math overlay and typed/printed written response due end of class on Wednesday, 10/15/14 (Day of SLCs!)

DP Update due Friday, 10/17/14 at end of class – Under the heading, FINAL TESSELALTION PROJECT, upload a
professional looking photo of your tessellation with and without the math overlay and your final written response to

EVALUATION:
product AND you will be graded on the process you followed.

TOTAL PTS: 93 pts YOUR SCORE: _____ (you will self-assess when you submit/I may factor this into your grade)
Process: 23 PTS
___ Did you NOT use class time productively? (-5 pts)
___Did you hand in an 8.5x11 tessellated outline at the start of class on 10/3/14? (4pts)
___Did you support your peers during peer critique? (4pts)
___Did you complete the first DP Update due 10/3/14? (3pts)
___Did you complete a well prepared 1
st
draft that was typed and printed for 10/7/14? (4pts)
___Did you complete the second DP Update due 10/10/14? (4pts)
___Did you bring in the final products on 10/15/14? (4pts)

Tessellation Poster: 24PTS
___Does your poster have a theme and title? (4pts)
___Does your poster have no gaps between tiles and show clean lines? (4pts)
___Does your poster use color or accents vividly to demonstrate your theme? (4pts)
___Does your tessellation extend to cover the full page, 11x17? (4pts)
___Is your tessellation properly and squarely secured (glued) to a black poster board backing? (4pts)
___Does your poster represent quality work to you? (4pts self-graded, be honest)

Math Overlay: 16PTS
___Does your overlay clearly label the pre-image tile and points? (2pts)
___Does your overlay clearly label the image tile and points with proper prime notation? (2pts)
___Does your overlay clearly label the second image tile and points with proper prime notation (double prime)? (2pts)
___Does your overlay use proper notation to describe how the tile is moved in the plane to the first image (rotation
includes angle and point, translation uses vector notation and an accurate distance)? (5pts)
___ Does your overlay use proper notation to describe how the tile is moved in the plane to the second image (rotation
includes angle and point, translation uses vector notation and an accurate distance)? (5pts)

Written Response: 30PTS
___Does your response have a title? (1pts)
___Does your response clearly describe how you transformed your polygon using both mathematical and general
language (i.e. I translated (shifted up) the curve from one edge (side) of the square to the opposite edge? (4pts)
___Does your response clearly describe the transformations needed to move your pre-image tile to your two image tile
locations? (4pts)
___Does your response demonstrate your position on whether tessellations are art or math? (4 pts)
___Does your response provide at least two pieces of evidence (quotes, researched information) to support your claim?
(6 pts)
___Does your response use proper/accepted grammar? (3pts)

Options and Challenges:
Your written response can take many forms. It can be a rap, poem or other written form. Or, if you’d like, it can be a
verbal response documented in a video (your video must meet the requirements of the written response and be
accessible to your peers to review, if you are choosing this option). Additionally, you may choose one of the challenge
options below. See next page for challenge extension options.

Challenge Extension 1:
___Use matrices to describe how your pre-image tile moved to each image location.
___Provide a basic description of what a matrix is and how different transformation matrices “work.”

Challenge Extension 2:
___Describe how tessellations relate to crystalline structures of materials (particularly – discuss the basic cubic unit
cells)? (Discuss with me if you choose this option.)

Challenge Extension 3:
___Create your tessellation using a computer and video similar to the one here?
http://www.opticalillusion.net/category/tessellations

Sources:
1) Hundersmarck. “Tessellation Project, Intro to Geometry 2010-2011.” Mrs. Hundersmarck AHS Mathematics. 23
March 2011. Web. 10 September 2014. <theschreib.com/IntroToGeo/Tessellations%20Project.pdf>
2) “About Escher.” M.C. Escher. No date. Web. 30 September 2014.