I Thought This Was A Math Class! With Adrienne Skye Roberts at Museum of Children’s Arts, Oakland

Creative Geometry
Pre-College Academy, Early Academic Outreach Program, UC Berkeley
Creative Geometry I: June 8-July 10, 2009
Creative Geometry II: June 16-July 24, 2010
This project-based course combines elements of traditional geometry and
studio art. Selected geometry topics are investigated through a combination
of classroom work, at-home assignments, experiments, and in-depth creative
projects. In exploring the interplay between two and three dimensional
geometry and art, the course aims to draw links between analytical and
creative thought. This show at the Oakland Museum of Childrens' Arts
features the two capstone projects of this sixweek
Curated by: Jon Fischer and Adrienne Skye Roberts.
U.C. Berkeley Pre-College Academy
Adrienne Skye Roberts
Oakland Museum of Children's Arts

Memories Turned to Wax

Title by Soledad Ramirez

In this project, students were asked to take an inventory of objects in their everyday lives and make a list of those that are of particular significance to them.  The resulting lists included objects that were both functional and sentimental, objects that they earned themselves or were given as gifts, and objects that represented religious affiliation, athletic or musical talents and memories.

Each student chose one object from their list and recreated it using clay.  The students worked together to make two-part plaster molds of these recreations; a foundational technique for sculpture.  The molds were then cast in a variety of waxes, including parafin, microcrystalline and beeswax to produce small scale sculptures.

After completing the artistic portion of this project, the students weighed their objects and determined their volume through an in-class volume measurement using water displacement.  From these measrements, the students calculated the density of their wax sculptures., thus completing a cohesive technical and physical characterization of their memory.

Mapping Personal Space


To begin this project, the students were asked to respond to a questionnaire about their home, neighborhood and cultural heritage.  They described their hometown, their high-school, their parents’ experiences, favorite travel destinations and offered insightful and articulate personal definitions of home.

The students then chose one of these significant locations to focus on.  Many students chose the city they live in or the country that their family is from, while others chose specific locations such as their church, school or favorite music venue.  A few students chose places they hope to one day experience, such as Paris, Louisiana and UC Berkeley.  The boundaries of these locations were then traced from geographical maps.

Considering composition and material, the students created collages to represent their unique relationships to the location of their choice.  Students experimented with two-dimensional techniques and design, creating visual, textual and sometimes personal descriptions of place.

The students then laid down uniform squares of paper over their boundaries and, by calculating the correspondence between these sqaures and the map scales, determined the real-life area of their personal spaces, thus describing their work in both artistic and technical terms.

Creative Geometry
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Creative Geometry Journal
  • I introduced a bill last year to reduce the speed limit.

    My hybrid geometry/art class for ninth graders, “Creative Geometry,” was in full full effect over the weekend. Our second annual art show took place at the Oakland Museum of Children’s Art, and my kids were fantastic. Six of them were there hours early and stayed until the end of the day to help out. This is what it looked like from the inside.

  • Here are some robots I love:

    I found a UC Berkeley MFA student who does robot art. Robot art! What could be more perfect for Creative Geometry class? The artist, Laura Greig, a fellow ex-engineering student from eastern Pennsylvania built Nila for her thesis project out of a coupe of servo motors, some fishing wire, and a few spare parts. So it was that on a hot Tuesday, I took my two classes for a cross-campus field trip to the art building to meet a painting robot.
    Nila the painting robot
    Turns out Nila also takes a photo every minute and Laura compiled this YouTube clip of the day. I’ll be damned if it isn’t the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. (If only the YouTube video still worked)


  • There aint no use in complainin’ when you got a job to do.

    On Thursday night I found myself holding hands with thirty-five tired educators in a circle, blessing each other.   This could only mean one thing: teaching in Berkeley is over.

    There were two last days, actually.   That’s because there were two of everything this summer: two class sections, two talent shows, two Creative Geometry teachers, two closing ceremonies.   In our final hours, we treated our kids to a final exam, a field trip to the Berkeley Art Museum and individual awards that Adrienne and I sewed out of fancy paper and ribbon.   Awards like “Most likely to become the Warriors’ mascot and move in to Oracle Arena” were a cover for our secret that we really loved those kids.   They seemed amused.

    We all reconvened for the closing ceremony, which featured us trying to sound intelligent in front of parents and accepting thank you cards we urged students to write for us.   Then there was a convocation featuring student speakers on the verge of shitting themselves with nervousness.   If that’s what one is going for, this is the pinnacle of cute high school assemblies.   You can’t manufacture that kind of earnestness, you can only force it.

    Then I was suddenly at Triple Rock Brewery, drinking a microbrew that was all malt, shouting in someone’s ear about fathers.   Asian fathers like to gamble, apparently.   On some other level of consciousness, I was writing the last six weeks in the books as a success.   It was hard and frustrating and I usually wanted to be doing something else.   There were so many things I would have done differently.   In some ways we even failed.   But I got to do it with Adrienne, we noticed a glimmer of actualization in a few students’ eyes, and I’m reminded why I am a teacher: it is a thing that is impossible to do perfectly and in this way it is an honest human endeavor.

  • Your gear is on its way.

    The Creative Geometry art show was a success. The gallery at the Museum of Children’s Art was the perfect size, the art looked great on the walls, and most importantly, people showed up. I think the students were in to it. It made me sorry that I did not extend personal invitations to my friends. Sorry everyone. As a consolation, I put together a really low quality three minute video from my digital camera clips. Behold as throughout the day I slowly drive Adrienne crazier. It’s just how we work together.

  • This occurs as the baby grows in the womb or near the time of birth.

    Our Creative Geometry art show is this weekend! At a real museum! Check out the flier:

    And check out how crazily beyond expectations Edward‘s collage map is. It depicts his family’s migration from Mexico to Northern California.   Christ, he made the road out of sandpaper.