In order to keep them from crawling up the walls in their last week before summer vacation, I’ve given my seventh graders a tessellation project. There are about ten million youtube videos explaining how to do this, so I won’t bore you with the basics. Instead, I’ll just tell you about my struggles and how I’m trying to address them.
I’ve done this for a few years now and have never really gotten the results I’d like. They mostly end up looking like squiggly triangles and never line up very neatly. Even kids who are normally perfectionists end up with kind of a mess.
This year, after spending several hours staring at Escher’s tessellations trying to figure out how to better set my students up for success, it suddenly occurred to me that you can often see Escher’s guidelines sketched underneath his designs. I experimented with this idea myself and drew a grid first before overlaying my tessellation. I’m pretty pleased with the result.
I sketched up a couple of grids for the students to use — one of equilateral triangles and another of squares — and we’ll see if this helps them get a more precise final product. Now I just have to convince them to be a little bolder with their designs so that I don’t get another set of squiggly triangles…