A One-Squiggle Cat

A cat drawn with one Hilbert curve

What’s weird about this drawing of a cat? The whole thing is 1 single line! The line keeps bending in on itself to fill the paper. In places where the sections of line come close together, the picture becomes darker. Those different shades make it look like a real thing. This kind of line is called a Hilbert curve, and as this video shows, the artist programmed a printer to draw it. Good thing, or it would never get finished!

Wee ones: Try drawing as straight a line on paper as you can. If you’re able, try to draw 2 straight lines close together without them touching!

Little kids: If you draw a line to make a shape with 5 sides, what do you call that shape?  Bonus:If you draw 9 straight, non-crossing lines all in the same direction, how many spaces do they make between them?

Big kids: If a picture is 2 feet across and each squiggle is 1 inch wide, how many squiggles fit across the page? (Hint if needed: A foot has 12 inches.)  Bonus: A 4-inch-wide square would hold 4 1-inch squiggles across and 4 squiggles up and down, giving us 16 squiggles. How many squiggles would fit in that square if the squiggles were just 1/2 inch tall and 1/2 inch wide?

Wee ones: Try drawing a straight line, or two!

Little kids: A pentagon.  Bonus: 8 spaces.

Big kids: 24 squiggles, since 2 feet = 24 inches.  Bonus: 64 squiggles, since you can now fit 4 of them (not 2!) in each square inch.  Another way to think of it: you can now fit 8 squiggles across and 8 down.

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