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Spiral of Theodorus

School: Evergreen Community Charter School

City/State: Asheville, NC

Grade(s): 8

Format(s): Visual arts

Subject(s): Mathematics, Visual Arts

Project Overview

This project was an integration between the math and art enrichment teachers that helped students cement the concept of Pythagorean Theorem and developed their protractor and ruler skills to a high level of precision.

Eighth students created artistic renditions of the Spiral of Theodorus. The spiral begins with an isosceles right triangle and continues by keeping one leg length the same and using the hypotenuse of the previous triangle to make the other leg of the next triangle. Students used Pythagorean Theorem to calculate the hypotenuse length for each triangle and expressed their answer either as a decimal or a simplified radical. 


We asked the teacher:

What did your students find compelling about this project?

Students enjoyed the ability to make the project their own, and express their version of creativity with the art. Many students also appreciated the consistency of the equations and solving process, as well as the opportunity to see math more visually than technically. 

What were the challenges?

Many students found the precision necessary to create a high-quality spiral with a protractor and ruler challenging. 

What would be your advice to a teacher that is inspired by this project?

Students should complete multiple drafts, especially those who are not yet comfortable with using a protractor. My students completed as much of a draft spiral as necessary to show they were proficient with using a protractor and ruler precisely and then moved onto creating the spiral that would become their artwork. 

How This Project Can Be Useful

  • Shows a math project that is inspiring through the use of art
  • Excellent example of students using tools well to express themselves
  • Models creativity as students chose a range of designs to show their understanding of a math concept

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