Friday, June 2, 2017

Wheel of Theodorus Year 3

As a final project to practice using the Pythagorean theorem in an artsy way, I introduced students to the Wheel of Theodorus. I originally learned about it from Yummy Math.

This year, I showed students examples from last year's students, which I believe motivated more students.

The rubric is pretty basic. You get a 4, or A, for meeting all requirements: a minimum of 6 calculations for hypotenuses, labeling all hypotenuses I for irrational and R for rational, and making it colorful and creative based on what it reminds you of.

One of the biggest talking points is properly showing all steps accurately, as well as what happens when you square a square root. For example: squaring the square root of 2 equals 2. Another way to view it is you can square the radicand, 2, to get 4. The square root of 4, is 2.

Some didn't finish it or turn it in, some put some effort in, but the ones that put a lot of effort in are obvious. I selected a few, took photos, cropped them, and showed all the classes the next day. Many students appreciated the opportunity to have an artsy project (and I love it because it's still mathy).

I noticed students had trouble drawing the 1 inch perpendicular legs for the new leg of the next triangle. One tip was using the corner of your ruler to make sure it was 90 degrees. Next year I might print and cut out the card stock 1 inch by 1 inch squares suggested by Yummy Math to assist in this process.

Here are the ones that stood out as creative, thought provoking, and full of effort:

This makes me thirsty and ready for summer.

Nice shading on this nautilus.

This looks like some really cool stained glass windows.

Apparently this is a Sponge Bob character. I wouldn't know, I've never watched it.

This one is titled "Moana"


  1. Very cool! This is a amazing activity. Plus it's a fantastic way to mix art and math -- and nature -- and history!

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. Thanks for the compliment. I hope it inspires other teachers to introduce it to their students and veer off of original plans to practice an important theorem. I think these examples will inspire many future years of students in my class and others.