AP Calculus students dabble in art


Morgan Hykin

Calculus students moved away from paper and pencil for a change of pace project that allowed students a different opportunity to showcase what they have learned in the class.

Lydia Fennell, Guest Contributor

AP Calculus students are transforming into artists as they utilize their mathematical skills to design abstract artwork. The last, and only, project of the year for AP calculus students challenged them to create a work of art using patterns in math.

“The art project is students taking a mathematical concept, some sort of formula or equation or geometric shape, and creating an abstract work of art,” calculus teacher Keith Christian said.  “They have to take something that’s very structured and patterned and create something where that pattern is not obvious to somebody other than themselves.”

Christian has been giving his students this end of year project for approximately nine years and bases it after what real abstract artists do.

“I went to a conference about ten years ago, and a lady there was talking about seeing an abstract art exhibit,” Christian said. “She found out that about 80 percent of the abstract art that you would see in museums have some sort of mathematical basis to it. And so I just decided to turn that into a project. I started the next year after that.”

The project shows students different applications of math that they may not have thought of before.

“It’s a different way of thinking of math and something that most people don’t see math as, so it is an expansion of math in that way,” junior Ryan Thompson said. “I think it’s a cool idea, and it’s a good way of mixing different ways of thinking. Also, its probably applicable to real life.”

The art project challenged students to think in ways that they are not used to thinking in a typical math class.

“Most of the students that I have in Calculus are very structured in their thinking,” Christian said. “They are very concrete and sequential, and this challenges them to do things that are a little outside of that comfort zone.”

However, several AP calculus students, who are a bit more artistic, found the project an opportunity to combine their art skills with math.

“I think the project is interesting, I like the it,” junior Grace Kuang said. “It’s more creative than normal math problems which can be kind of boring. It’s a good chance to show your artistic side, rather than your reasoning logical side.”

Now that the AP calculus test is over, the project offered students a way to cool down from their hard work.

“It’s a good project for after AP exams because it’s not the same thing as solving a problem,” Thompson said. “It’s a different kind of work than what we’ve done the rest of the year, and I think it’s much calmer.”