"Is there a beauty in math? OH GOD that's a
funny one. Teachers kill you with these jokes." This was what one PANYC student
wrote on the first day of Math & Beauty.
"The only thing that you see in math," he continued, "is numbers, numbers
and maybe... nope you still see more numbers." All of these numbers can end up
making students like this young man feel "mixed up... struggl[ing] to find out how to
solve a problem that has a lot of numbers. And that is why I think," he wrote,
"there is no beauty in math." 
Another PANYC student began her response by
saying that "Math is boring," but she didn't stop there. "When we make
drawings and graphs to explain the problems," she explained, "I find beauty in
it!" On the other hand, she argued with herself, "when you do exercises, and you have to use numbers, I don't find any kind of beauty. (Well, maybe the guys who are doing the math!)" She finished by writing, "I think that it is a good idea to have more beauty in
math and not to make it so boring. We can draw and graph the problems like what we did in
the perspective drawings at the beginning of the year. It was cool because we had to use
our imaginations to draw the buildings from a perspective. We can use paints and big
papers to do it! And some other materials too!" 


A third PANYC student — a 10th grader who
is in the middle of her second year with Persheen for math — responded to the
question, Is there beauty in math? with this:

This semester Persheen Maxwell and Paul Allison are teaming up in a
combined math and humanities class to explore the questions about math and beauty. This
class, Math & Beauty, combines four
disciplines in one — art, music, poetry, and mathematics — all working together
to help students become better writers, computer users, readers, and mathematicians. In the first half of this semester, we'll learn how to listen to music and each student will use math functions to create a song. We'll also explore mathematical connections in poetry and art. Each strand will record a CD of their songs, produced using Overture 2, a computer program that allows users to create MIDI music files. Students will also design a home page for their personal web sites that will answer the question, Is there beauty in math? This home page will include original art work, an original song in the background, and lyrics or poems that students will write using mathematical structures. In the second half of this semester, the focus will be on geometry and art as we explore our big question through the "string project." There are a lot more details, but we can't put them all here! Click on a topic to the left and see where we have gone in our journey into Math & Beauty. Main texts: Abbott, Edwin A. (1884, 1992). Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions. New York: Dover Publications, Inc. Beall, Scott (2000). Functional Melodies: Finding Mathematical Relationships in Music. Emeryville, CA: Key Curriculum Press. Copland, Aaron (1939, 1999). What to Listen for in Music. New York: Mentor Books. Plus many other poems, stories, and essays. 
Created by Paul Allison, [email protected]. Last Updated 3/5/01