• What About Higher Derivatives of Art?

    by  • September 15, 2013 • Math • 0 Comments

    Does this resonate with you? I’m playing with color and pattern for a high school math lesson, and this idea is intriguing. I’d love to hear your thoughts.


    P.S. I think of it like polynomial differentiation. Every time you take a derivative, you reduce the degree of the function. Cubic to quadratic to linear to constant to zero. In the same way, every time I took the derivative of this piece of art, I lost an attribute. First to go was pattern, then color, then shading, leaving me with brightness. Each of the next (and subsequent) derivatives would be a black square – the visual equivalent of zero.

    I think I will make cards of the original images and the first two derivatives. I’ll ask the kids to match them, based on color and pattern. I’m not sure if it really “fits” anywhere in a traditional HS curriculum, but I think it may be worth doing anyway. Giving students a chance to make connections almost always is.


    After teaching for 14 years, I now design curriculum and create digital and print instructional materials for high school and middle school math. I have also invented and am now marketing radian-scale protractors. Check out www.proradian.net! I'm very happily married and have 2 grown sons and a cat named Louie.

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