Math @ the Museum

This month I’m working with a 4th grade teacher to present a series of live-zoom classes for her online students exploring STEM @ the Museum, three Mondays in a row. This has been a fantastic experience for me, in that I’m getting to work directly with a teacher to identify the content that works best for her class and meets her standards-based learning objectives. Working with teachers always helps me to hone my message and develop materials with more rigger.

“I loved your class! It was so much fun to see math in patterns and art!”

Happy, 4th grade teacher, Boise Online School

We started with math as our entry point into the topic because, contrary to what some may think, math is all over the place in art and museums. It’s actually the easiest to find and engage with when exploring any museum space.

I’ve mentioned before in my blog posts, that my father is a visual artist. (Check out his YouTube videos HERE) He has always played a central role in my understanding of how to interpret and understand art. One of the key dogmas he repeats is that painting or drawing or sculpting are ultimately crafts that eventually become art after mastering a strict set of guidelines over years of practice. Like Bob Ross says, “with enough practice anyone can be an artist.” Composition, lights & darks and use of line are skills that artists use to express themselves, share their observations of the world around them and tell stories. So, in Math @ the Museum, we look especially closely at composition and the mathematical principles that guide good art, or the kind of art you see at the museum.

You can purchase the full recording of Math @ the Museum class, geared towards 3rd, 4th and 5th learners, at Teachers Pay Teachers by clicking on the image below:

In Math @ the Museum, the first in the STEM @ the Museum series, we

As with all my classes, I always like to share a challenge! In Math @ the Museum, we learn that the basic definition of Mathematics is simply: the Study of Numbers, Shapes and Patterns. Patterns are everywhere! Go to a museum near you, or look around your home or neighborhood. Where do you see the patterns we learned about ? If Math is the study of numbers, shapes & patterns, does that mean math is EVERYWHERE?!

Today, in the second class with my special 4th graders, Science @ the Museum, we visited the Louvre in Paris and explored their virtual gallery tours. It was so much fun taking them through the galleries and pointing out all the new questions they can ask on their virtual and in person visits to more deeply engage with the art and artifacts by just using the lens of Math they learned last week!

So often we visit museums incredulous that we have the prior knowledge or passion for art, to enjoy our visit. But if we are able to apply lenses like math & patterns and turn the visit into a game of observation and inquiry, that incredulity wears off and we might end up leaving with new inspiration and even a little more knowledge than when we arrived.

I’ll share more next Monday @ the Museum!

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