We hold a hands-on activity "Designs & Math - Tessellations" for ages 11-18 at Un-Camp, the Science Summer Camp of Virginia Tech. The activity conveys the visual aspects of quantitative problem solving through principles of geometry, a recurring theme in our research.

Summary: Decorating a flat surface with a repeating polygon, such as a square, triangular or hexagonal tile, while avoiding imperfections is known as tessellation. Imagine a vibrant, alternating color pattern of a parquet floor in a lobby, the mesmerizing graphic artworks of the famous Dutch artist M. C. Escher, or a honeycomb of a bee hive. Tessellated surfaces can be aesthetically appealing, address structural constraints, or both!


In this activity, students learn:

  • How ancient Greek mathematicians and medieval Islamic architects invented ways of complex tessellations, be it for achieving mathematical elegance or divine artistic beauty.

  • How viruses, our minuscule yet infectious archenemies from the microbial world, build their capsids based on exactly the same geometric principles in order to enclose their genetic material.

SELECTED VIDEOS     For more videos visit our Youtube channel.