Repeating patterns from your own culture: The value of such an assignment in a foundation class in mathematical art and design

Presenter: Catherine Hassell Sweatman


This session describes the success of an introductory assignment in a new course in mathematical art and design. This course, Foundation Maths and Design, first taught in 2018, is part of the Certificate in Science and Technology (CertScT) at Auckland University of Technology. The CertScT provides a pathway for students aiming for University Entrance into Art and Design.

In this course, students learn to produce their own mathematical art by coding. The first assignment, which does not involve coding, includes a presentation to the class on repeating patterns from the student’s own culture. Conversations about symmetry and geometry arise in a natural way. These patterns of cultural significance inspire mathematical artwork produced later in the semester. This approach was successful in bringing together a class with very different backgrounds. A total of thirty-eight students identified with twenty-one different cultures or countries over two years, bringing a rich variety to the class. This assignment could be given in many contexts, for example, in history, art, design, mathematics, engineering and architecture lectures. In my class it was very successful, delivering value in many ways, growing confidence socially, in art, design, mathematics and in cultural appreciation.