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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Geometry is Real Life Math

Today I am linking up with Miss Math Dork for Math IS Real Life.
 This linky is being hosted by The Teacher Studio, Miss Math Dork, Teaching to Inspire in 5th and 4mula Fun.

It drives me crazy when I think about my math education. In tenth grade, geometry made absolutely no sense to me. I struggled in that class and yet I had always been good at math. Today I realize there were no real life connections to math in this class. Hello...this is geometry. Geometry is real life. Maybe my teacher thought we would make our own connections - I didn't.  It took years for me to realize that geometry is all around me and I use it all of the time.

I probably use geometry the most when I quilt. I'm not much of a pattern follower, plus I rarely trust the author of the directions so quilting has a lot of geometry and measurement involved. Just this summer I bought the fabric requirements listed on a pattern. Here's the quilt:
 The directions had me buy 1 1/2 yards of material for all the light colored pinwheels in the center of each block and all the sashing rectangles. You can see that I used two different fabrics for these pieces because 1 1/2 yards was not enough fabric and when I went back to the store, they were out of the original fabric and I had already sewn all 48 squares. I wanted it to be the same fabric but now I was out of luck. I think my substitute fabrics goes just fine and no one but me will notice. Well, and now all of you! But back to the math. How much fabric is needed for the light pinwheel centers and the sashing?  There are 48 squares in the quilt and each is 10 inches finished. The entire quilt is 87 x 112.  The sashing is 3 inches finished and when I cut out the pinwheels I first cut squares and then cut each square in half across the diagonal to get two triangles. This is a great real life math problem that I wish I had calculated myself rather than trusting the author of the pattern.
How about an easier problem from this quilt for younger mathematicians - How many squares, triangles, and rectangles are in each block? It's hard to see, but the larger square is made up of sixteen smaller squares which are each made from two triangles. This is composing two-dimensional shapes to create a composite shape in real life (1.G.A.2 in the CCSS).  Plus, this square looks like it's sewn on the diagonal. But it's not. The color choices and the way they are turned create this diagonal look even though everything is sewn in horizontal or vertical straight lines. Students can experiment in creating different looks with paper triangles.

Here's another example:

 It can be hard to find the pattern when looking at the entire quilt. But here is a close up of six squares:
This is real life geometry and real life problem solving. Why didn't my teacher help me see this connection? I had no idea that I would someday sleep every night under a blanket that required my ability to "do" geometry. 


  1. Love your quilt! On my to do list for someday is learning how to sew like that! I have lots of grand ideas for quilt making and no skills. I do make paper quilts with students so I use most of my talents there!

    The Math Maniac

    1. Quilting is the easiest kind of sewing there is. No reverse, no zippers or buttons and there's nothing like cuddling up with a good book in a warm quilt! Plus you'd be great at's nothing but math.

  2. Brandi!!! I LOOOOOVE your quilts! I have a few that I need to sit and work on... hoping for a few snow days this winter to motivate me! Thanks so much for linking up!!

    Jamie aka MissMathDork!