Tuesday, October 4, 2011

2 Students, 1 Ruler

In fifth period Algebra yesterday, we wrapped up ratios and proportions with an in-class activity exploring the Fibonacci numbers and the golden ratio. This was one of those lessons where I thought my students would actually learn something useful, as neither the Fibonacci numbers nor the golden ratio are actually on the Integrated Algebra Regents Exam. This makes me a terrible teacher because I am not training my students to be test-takers. Obvi.

I thought it'd be cool to show my students how the golden ratio is utilized in architecture, art, design, nature, etc. I highlighted how cosmetic surgeons often use a facial mask with proportions based off the golden ratio for their patients. Basically, I was setting them up to understand that proportions based off the golden ratio appear to be more pleasing to the human eye.

Then the activity: I would partner students up and give each pair a ruler to measure each others' faces, hands, arms, feet, and legs. They then divide the appropriate measurements to arrive at their own respective ratios. For example, they measure the length of a hand (middle finger to palm) and then measure the length of an arm (wrist to elbow). Divide the arm length by the hand length and tada, we have a ratio!

The goal was to get the kids to understand how "weirdly" enough, most of these measured ratios would be close to the golden ratio. As I passed out plastic twelve-inch rulers, one of my female students looked at me extremely worried:
"Mista, I don't know how to use one of these! Do you start from 1 or 0?!"
This question shocked me. I quickly discovered my usual quick-witted response mechanism appeared to be vacationing in the Bahamas. So, I took the ignore approach and hoped she was merely pretending to not understand. Ask your partner, dammit.

About a half-hour later, there was a pair of girls who appeared to be done. I approached.
"You guys look done, nice work. What did you learn?" I asked.
"Mista, according to this, my partner's numbers be closer to the golden ratio than mine. This means I'm ugly, don't it? First it's my mom and now it's this worksheet. That's some bullshit!"
Uh... Whoops.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Laugh out loud,
Was the person who's face closest to the golden ratio the prettiest?

Yo Mista said...

@ Anonymous:
Yes. I was definitely the prettiest. Winning...

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a fascinating lesson! Sorry about the girl, though. Can we teachers EVER win? LOL

Michelle Hannah said...

you should have run this exercise by a girl first... thanks to the golden ratio i have a feeling there's going to be a slew of unwanted pregnancies in the next few weeks.

Yo Mista said...

@ Michelle:
Nah, just more whiny, emo-ish facebook status updates.

Caroline Gambell said...

my dad teaches this rule in his graphic design class using a stringed instrument (that he made himself, in our basement) to demonstrate how it even applies in music. pretty nerdy, and pretty awesome.

Yo Mista said...

@ Caroline:
Your dad sounds super cool. If he has a moustache and wears bow ties, I would like to seek adoption into your family...

Caroline gambell said...

unfortunately he sports neither a moustache nor bow ties, but he does wear houndstooth blazers with leather elbow patches and perfectly round tortoise-shell glasses. He also used to ride an avocado green 1968 bmw motorcycle to work ever day.

Yo Mista said...

@ Caroline:
A man after my own heart...