You can make art out of just about anything. Sculptures made of clay, castles made of sand, bridges made of pretzel sticks and marshmallows. Well, as we see here at the Washington Convention Center, you can even use musical instruments and furniture. That circle at the top is made of 30 guitars. The blue ring has kayaks, a skinny type of boat, while the statues below have rings of bicycles and bar stools. Any time you repeat a shape to make a pattern, you’re making art using math. Just make sure you stick it really well to the ceiling.
Wee ones: How many kayaks does that blue sculpture have?
Little kids: If you made your own triangle sculpture of 3 bicycles, how many wheels would they have? Bonus: If at each corner you added a unicycle (which has just 1-wheel), now how many wheels do you have?
Big kids: If you strum the 1st of those 30 guitars, then every 4th guitar after that, will you strum that 1st guitar when you go around once? Bonus: Those are all 4-legged stools in that 26-stool statue. How many legs do they have in total?
Wee ones: 5 kayaks.
Little kids: 6 wheels. Bonus: 9 wheels, since you’ve added a wheel at each of 3 corners.
Big kids: Not quite – you’ll strum the 29th, then jump to the 3rd. Bonus: 104 stool legs.
Laura Bilodeau Overdeck is founder and president of Bedtime Math Foundation. Her goal is to make math as playful for kids as it was for her when she was a child. Her mom had Laura baking before she could walk, and her dad had her using power tools at a very unsafe age, measuring lengths, widths and angles in the process. Armed with this early love of numbers, Laura went on to get a BA in astrophysics from Princeton University, and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business; she continues to star-gaze today. Laura’s other interests include her three lively children, chocolate, extreme vehicles, and Lego Mindstorms.