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Symmetry to Walk On

Mathematics teachers always look for that special idea or activity that complements or extends their students' learning of good mathematics. One possibility is the website on Symmetry and Pattern: The Art of Oriental Carpets. The web site is of high-quality because it is a collaborative project between The Textile Museum and The Math Forum. The author responsible for the web site's content is Carol Bier, a world-recognized expert on textile and Islamic patterns.

Let your tour begin with the Brief Tutorial on symmetry and pattern within a mathematical context. The focus is the symmetrical world of the four basic transformations: Translation, Reflection, Glide Reflection, and Rotation. These notions are then used in the discussion of strip patterns, wallpaper patterns, and plane tesselations.

Now you are ready for the Rug Gallery. Using skills in recognizing symmetry, you can discuss the different visual effects found in the contrasting Oriental Carpets. For example, can you find an example of a rug that has three of the four basic symmetries?

The Educational Resources section is just that....a collection of activities for students to try their own hand at creating symmetric patterns. The site includes a glossary, examples of student work, a bibleography of additional resources, and links to related web sites. For those rug-minded individuals, the site includes an interesting description as to how Oriental Carpets are made.