I’ve had a lot of interesting conversations with Julian Altschul (one of the fabulous members of Brearley‘s Math Department) over the last two years. I wondered if he’d be interested in taking his tessellations unit into the 3rd dimension, and we discussed various tools we could use for a 2D to 3D transformation. He and I are both longtime fans of Geometer’s Sketchpad, Logo, and Scratch. I suggested trying out TurtleArt since it’s a clean and simple way to make Art while flexing their computational thinking skills. Julian offered a couple of days this week for me to join his Class IX Geometry students and tinker with them.
Yesterday, we began by examining the TurtleArt menus and blocks, constructing simple polygons, and then tessellating shapes. We talked about procedures and loops, and students were tasked with exploring and coming up with interesting designs for homework. Today, girls shared their designs (as PNG files) with the rest of the class, and we peeked at their code and considered ways to make their program as efficient as possible. Here are some initial doodles:
Here’s an example of the code powering the flower drawing below:
Then, something serendipitous happened, and a student shared the “rainbow thing” file below. After opening the file, I immediately hit the clean button to clear the screen in order to watch the drawing evolve before our eyes, but only one spiral popped up on the screen. The student explained she had manually layered spirals — each with a different color and different radius. It was a perfect segue to discuss how to enhance her code with variables (and more math!) so her fully intended design would bloom automatically. Another student talked the class through how to use the box1 and store in box1 blocks to assign and revalue variables. It was super exciting!
I suggested that students convert their PNG to an SVG (using this website), import their SVG into Tinkercad, resize if necessary (including giving their design more height), and export an STL for 3D printing. Julian is thinking that will be their next assignment…
Here’s a link to an earlier post about a TurtleArt workshop I attended last year which was led by Artemis Papert and Brian Silverman: https://karenblumberg.wordpress.com/2017/03/11/turtleart/
You can get TurtleArt for free (!) by emailing Artemis and Brian at the bottom of TurtleArt’s home page: https://turtleart.org/