March 27, 2019 at 10:53 am

Graduate Students Use Islamic Geometric Patterns to Teach Math at Middle School

Graduate students head to Wellston Middle School to teach Islamic geometric patterns, shown standing in front of car.

Graduate students head to Wellston Middle School to teach Islamic geometric patterns.

Seven graduate students from the Ohio University’s Mathematics Department and one professor went to Wellston Middle School in rural Southeastern Ohio on March 4 to set up seven stations of math art activities.

The graduate students who participated in this activity are from Kurdistan of Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Nepal, the United States, Iran, and Ghana.

In 90 minutes, the 30 participating students were able to visit most of the seven stations. The theme of the activity was “Islamic Geometric Patterns.” Involving art in math has been shown to better engage students and produce better learning outcomes when students participate in interdisciplinary activities such as Islamic geometric patterns.

The activities the graduate students offered fell into this category and were unlike anything these students had experienced in the past, including:

The event was organized by the American Mathematical Society (AMS) Graduate Student Chapter at Ohio University,  recently founded by Muhammad (President) and Zailaee (Treasurer). Most of these activities were designed by Muhammad, who has been actively promoting Islamic geometric patterns in math education for a number of years through his innovative work at conferences, math festivals, schools, and museums.

In May, Muhammad was invited to the National Math Festival in Washington, D.C., to lead an Islamic geometric patterns activity for approximately 1,000 schoolchildren over the span of two days. Zailaee will also accompany Muhammad for this event. In July, Muhammad will teach at the Bridge to Enter Advanced Mathematics program, which is a summer program for underserved students in New York. His course will focus on Islamic geometric patterns and wallpaper group, which is an important topic in group theory that has applications in crystallography.

Special thanks to Courtney Koestler for providing transportation.


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