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Calculicious: Making Calculus Delicious

School: High Tech High School

City/State: San Diego, CA

Grade(s): 12

Format(s): Book: Nonfiction/Informational

Subject(s): English Language Arts, Mathematics, Visual Arts

Project Overview

This book was created by seniors at High Tech High in San Diego, California. It is a product from a cross-curricular study of art and mathematics. For one semester, the students worked on a project in math class and art class that attempted to animate mathematical ideas and content through visual images, bringing the math to life, and at the same time working to animate artistic images with mathematical concepts.

At the beginning of the project, students visited art museums, began sketching and building miniature sculptures, and used Google SketchUp to create architectural plans. They considered their work from an artistic perspective and a mathematical perspective. There were three major individual products to the Calculicious project: a watercolor painting, an acrylic painting, and a sculpture. The students studied a modern artist and considered the geometric issues present in his or her work. They created art inspired by that artist, connected to the mathematical concepts they had studied.

Although the book’s subtitle is “Making Calculus Delicious”, the mathematical concepts illuminated by the artwork are not necessarily from the calculus; many illustrate content from geometry or trigonometry. 

The students created on online forum to critique and discuss their work. When creating this book, the students chose to include watercolor or acrylic paintings they created, explanatory text from the artist, and also selected critique and discussion from the blog for each artistic piece.

The completed book was published by, and can be purchased from the website. 

How This Project Can Be Useful

  • Strong integration of technology including the use of Google SketchUp, Photoshop and a class blog for critique.
  • Combination of visual art and math challenges students both creatively and academically.
  • Inclusion of student writing displays their thoughts on process, decision-making and troubleshooting.
  • The multiple elements of this project challenges students to think about mathematics and visual art in both two-dimensions and three-dimensions.

Relevant Resources

Common Core State Standards

Standard Long Term Learning Target
  • I can evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats in order to address a question or solve a problem.
  • I can produce clear and coherent writing appropriate to task, purpose and audience.
  • I can use technology to produce, publish, and update writing products in response to ongoing feedback, new arguments, and new information.
  • I can integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information in a variety of formats and media to address a question or solve a problem.
  • I can resolve conflicting information when possible.
  • EL has not created long-term learning targets for WHST standards.
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