Update: April 13th, 2022
Upscale Pattern Blocks are now available!
Now you can get your hands on a set of blocks through the amazing and creative folks at Math for Love. Click here for details!!
(If you are not familiar with Math for Love, poke around the website. Along with the Upscale Pattern Blocks, there are numerous other curiosities for home-based and school-based mathematical exploration.)
First off, I hope you are well. This post represents a portion of my attempt to remain “well enough” in the midst of tremendous uncertainty. Most of my time is spent talking about the teaching and learning of mathematics, something that seems to have ground to a necessary halt in recent days. Given our collective circumstance, the time feels as good as ever to talk about a little project I’ve been working on, and ask for a smidge of help.
Recent access to a laser cutter and a kindergartener got me wondering. I began to play with a few possibilities. One of the fun things that fell out was a set of scaled pattern blocks I’m calling, “Upscale Pattern Blocks”. Essentially, they are pattern blocks scaled in three different sizes. The sizes interacted in some very interesting ways, and after some test cutting and multiple trips to the craft supply store, I ended up with a really fun result.
The first two sets of “Upscale Pattern Blocks” are imaged below on the left. A single set is composed of three sizes of tiles, and can be arranged into a single eight-times scale model of the yellow hexagon. One such possible arrangement (pre-painted) is pictured on the right.
I began to tinker with The Boy. I was amazed (although I shouldn’t have been) at his thinking with the new tiles. Would you guess that “small greens” can cover anything, but “small blues” cannot? Below are a few pictures my wife took while we were playing. I just adore the gamut of emotions–from bemusement to determination to surprise.
I want to be able to gift these across classrooms. While the infrastructure to do so is in its infancy, an interesting opportunity arose at my local university, the University of Saskatchewan. Every year the “Images of Research” contest collects entrants from students, faculty, and alumni interested in showcasing their research activities. The contest has a meagre cash prize associated with it, but it is more than enough to get this passion project off the ground. The plan is to direct any associated contest winnings to proliferating this (and possibly other) classroom tools designed to instigate mathematical play with youngsters.