Mathematical Discoveries in Romanesque Architecture (LS-PT-248)

Mathematics is everywhere in science, technology and art. Today and yesterday. Therefore, teachers need to relate mathematics to cultural and historical aspects. This gives students the right perspective: this is a science of ideas and ideals.

“The object of mathematics is the honor of the human spirit.”

Carl Gustav Jacob Jacobi (German mathematician, 1804 – 1851)

This Learning Scenario focuses on two key elements in mathematics learning and teaching: visual mathematics and anchor learning.

The Culture Moves Scrapbook

CultureMoves is a user-oriented project aiming for touristic engagement and educational resources by leveraging the re-use of Europeana content. The Learning Scenario is based on a scrapbook created for this purpose on the Culture Moves portal.

Romanesque Math Discoveries serves as an activity guide, where mathematics is related to Romanesque architecture. With this scrapbook students visualize, investigate, play and compose in a creative and relational way.

Starting point

Europeana Collections set the tone for the lesson. The Route of the Romanesque was presented with a video mapping. Many students were unaware of the monuments on the Route and the main characteristics of the Romanesque.

Math involved

The number Pi is an irrational number and is related to the perimeter of the circle, as shown in the story An irrational love story or the TED-Ed movie The infinite life of… Pi. Students could read the story and see the movie at home. In class, they talked about both.

Finding the date of birth in the infinite decimal places of Pi can be a stimulating activity for students, like finding Pi in Romanesque Architecture. Students loved these activities performed with their mobile phones.

A MathLapse that illustrates a process for constructing a stamp for imprinting a rosette which has (only) rotation symmetry led to the relationship between Pi and the lateral surface area of a cone. This way students better understood the symmetry of rotation and a stamping process.

Math challenge

With a Kahoot game, students could complete a formula and find the solution to the problem presented in the mathematical rosette. Consequently, they were more interested in learning about the formula. It was also more fun! Students showed more attention and willingness to understand that deduction. Likewise, learning from error is possible here.

Math composition

Written and verbal communication is very important for a better understanding of the issues. So, both were explored in this activity.

Here you find some examples of maths composition and rosette exploration activities presented to the students.

An inspiring challenge

An example of the use of the spirograph and the difference between mathematical rosettes and non-rosettes was made by a student and discussed in class. Likewise, it was proposed as a homework assignment. Inspirograph Yourself is a good activity to do at home and seems like a good starting point for a school project.

In conclusion, all students enjoyed the mathematics presented in the Route of the Romanesque. It was an experience with videos, stories, games and mobile and computer applications. This learning scenario can be reinterpreted and be the basis for interdisciplinary work.


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The featured image used to illustrate this article is available on Europeana Collections and belongs to the public domain.

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