# Look around you!

You’re probably thinking how monotonous it is that I continue to repeat this, but maths is everywhere! Again.

I will never lose the amazement or curiosity I have filled with, at the fact that maths is the fundamental principle behind the creation and design of many things – and, much to your shock, as you are about to discover, it’s even on your face! Keep updated on my blog and have a look at my next blog post if you want to know what I mean by this. But really, your face is maths in practice.

In my last maths blog post: There’s no avoiding it – Maths is everywhere! (you can find this at:  https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/glowblogs/teachingjourney/2015/11/17/theres-no-avoi…-is-everywhere/)… I quite clearly conveyed my astonishment as I was discovering the honest truth that maths is everywhere. So, now it is my turn to shock you. Here are just a few places you’ll find maths…

Have a look at the tiles, perhaps in your kitchen or bathroom. This can be on the walls or the floor – if it’s the flooring, it may be wooden.
Like pineapples? If you do, you’re one step further. If you don’t like pineapples, look at a bar of chocolate.
If there happens to be a football kicking around – pardon the unintended pun – then you’ll find maths on that.
So that takes you outside – where you will see maths everywhere, but have a look specifically at cobbles, slabs or bricks on the pavements or roads – it’ll be there.

Tessellation is a mathematical concept which the construction of a multiple number of identical copies of one shape. I exaggerate ‘identical’, as this is the reason tessellation occurs. For a shape to become a tessellation, they must be the same size and shape, to fit more than one copy together.

Oxford University Press (2015) defines ‘tessellation’ as:
“An arrangement of shapes closely fitted together, especially of polygons in a repeated pattern without gaps or overlapping.”

To demonstrate this and lay it out, I have drawn a picture showing tessellation:

In this picture, you can see the triangular shapes drawn are clearly equal in size and they touch with no gaps between each shape. I could have continued drawing triangles until the page was full, but I wanted to write about it instead! Tessellations also work with hexagons, squares and many more. Any comments with how many shapes you can think of which can tessellate, would be great!

To further explain how tessellations work, below is what a tessellation is not:

In the above drawing are four circles, equal in shape in size. So, they are equal in shape and size – shouldn’t they tessellate when they are drawn next to one another? Well, no – looking back at the first picture, there are no gaps between each shape. Now looking at this picture, you can see gaps between each shape = no tessellation.

These are basic examples. More abstract designs using two or more different shapes can still tessellate, because they can be in order and start to design a pattern.

The fundamental mathematics behind tessellations is the shapes, sizes, scaling and quantity. The most basic idea is shape. In order to begin to tessellate a shape, you need to know the number of sides the shape has. For example, if I, at random, chose the circle to tessellate then began drawing it, I would soon discover it does not work – this is because it has one edge which is rounded. Therefore, clarifying my point that the fundamentality behind tessellations is shape.

UPDATE
A great discovery I have made… Have a look:

Harris, A. (2000) The Mathematics of Tessellation. [Online]. Available at: http://ictedusrv.cumbria.ac.uk/maths/pgdl/unit9/Tessellation.pdf Last Accessed: Dec 5 2015.

References

Dickson, R. (2015) There’s no avoiding it – Maths is everywhere! Available at:  https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/glowblogs/teachingjourney/2015/11/17/theres-no-avoi…-is-everywhere

Oxford University Press (2015). Available at: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/tessellation?q=tessellations. Last Accessed: Dec 5 2015.

# The Meaning of Mathematics – Maths defined

Numbers, sums, equations, patterns, sequences, problem-solving, formulas, confusion…

What comes into your head when you think about ‘maths’? Should we think more about ‘mathematical concepts’ and look deeper into what maths is all about, rather than accepting maths as being solely about numbers and work books?

‘Mathematics’ is defined as,
“The abstract science of number, quantity, and space, either as abstract concepts (pure mathematics) or as applied to other disciplines such as physics and engineering (applied mathematics)”.  (Oxford University Press, 2015)

So, what is maths? Maths can be confusing for many people. Many people believe you either have a ‘maths brain’ or you do not. I believe maths can be confusing, however I passionately argue that maths, the majority of the time is equations and formulas to follow. My view is maths can be straight-forward, if you allow it to be, or as the teacher, if you facilitate it right; it’s made up of steps and strategies. The difficult concept to grasp in maths is understanding those strategies, formulas and equations. Given you have that understanding, you are able to follow the steps and reach your solution – your answer.

However, saying that, is maths all about finding an answer? The problem-solving involved in mathematics is easier for me personally, because I enjoy being challenged to think and to think about problems from various perspectives. So, I enjoy the aspect of thinking about maths in contexts, as it has a purpose. I like to think of this as meaningful learning. In summary, I view problem-solving in mathematics as meaningful learning.

That’s not to abolish that other elements of mathematics are not intended purposeful learning. As stated by Scottish Government,
“Mathematics is important in our everyday life. It equips us with the skills we need to interpret and analyse information, simplify and solve problems, assess risk and make informed decisions.” (Scottish Government, Education Scotland, 2015)

I agree with this – maths is important. Maths can be used everywhere in situations, without us recognising that we are using our mathematical understanding. How would we be able to tell the time? How would we be able to implement time management skills? How would we know to recognise significant dates? Would you know when your own birthday is approaching? How would we manage finances and handle money? I could not think of one occupation or career that does not involve mathematical elements in some way. Could you?

Maths is fundamentally important in every day life, I agree.

References

Oxford University Press (2015) Oxford Dictionaries: Language Matters. Available at: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/mathematics. Last Accessed: Nov 5 2015.

Scottish Government (2015) Education Scotland: Mathematics. Available at: http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/learningandteaching/curriculumareas/mathematics/. Last Accessed: Nov 5 2015.