Pumpkin Linear Art (and Desmos project)

My Linear Art project came early this year, mostly due to the fact I wanted to get my students on Desmos as soon as I could.  I have my College Linear Art project hanging in my room and I have had a lot of students comment on it.  With the Halloween holiday here, I decided to jump start the process while allowing students to enjoy themselves (and practice some math along the way!)  I gave students a blank sheet of paper and asked them to design a jack-o-lantern.  When they were finished with their “pattern”, I gave them a ruler and graph paper.  They needed to recreate their pumpkin on the graph paper using only lines.  I also suggested that they make sure to have vertices of the pumpkin on grid points on the graph- because of the online graphing project we are going to do afterward.  They really got into the drawing, design and coloring of their projects, and then I hit them with a little math- the coordinate plane.  Once they placed their XY axis on their pumpkin, I had them plot some points as a refresher to graphing and the quadrants (I have a mixed group of 6th through 12th graders and this allowed me to address some graphing issues any student was having).  Here are some of the pumpkins that were designed that day.


Now to get to work laying foundations with Desmos so we can recreate these drawings.  Typically I review vertical and horizontal lines, and have them create their initials in “low res.”  Then we will work on the equation of a line, how slope and intercept changes those equations.  I am looking forward to the next week of class!

This is the rubric I used for this lesson:

Desmos Pumpkin Rubric

Linear Art Project

This is a fun project that I started doing to support my Art teacher and show students that Algebra can make the most amazing things.

Step 1:

Have students pick out a picture.  This is a great sell to students since they have control over what type of picture, icon, avatar, etc that they use for the project.

This was the example I used, the logo from my college, the Bemidji State University Beaver.

IMAG0600_BURST001Step 2:

Have student create a free hand drawing of the picture.  This allows them to adjust the picture, editing lines and shading that they may not want to show.  It allows them to be creative and adapt the picture for the project.

Here was my free-hand drawing of the Beaver.

IMAG0601Step 3:

Students recreate their free hand sketch on graph paper and using only lines.  They should try to make shapes end on grid points of the paper.  This part can take a while, if students created a large enough free hand sketch, you could allow window tracing to help transfer the image to graph paper.  I have students make 2 copies of the graph image, one they can decorate and one for the next step.

Here is my colored graph paper image.


Step 4:

Have students create an X&Y Axis on their picture.  I allow them to create them wherever they want, and usually they have them right in the center of their drawing.  Depending on the patience level of the students, I have them label points that create their drawing.  There are times I only have them do a set amount (20 or so) and times I have them label each line segment ending.  This is totally up to you.

My XY Axis image:


Step 5:

DESMOS!  Need I say anything more.  I used to have students write the equations of the lines that create their image, but with the totally awesome program DESMOS, I now have students create their image with it.  DESMOS has helped students understand how changing the slope or intercept effects the line, and with the instant drawing of the line when they enter the equation, it allows them to visually see where their line is.  This is a great error check for students, and they accept mistakes more readily than if they are writing equations on paper.

My DESMOS image.

BSU BeaverStep 6: The Finalé

To complete this project, I have students create a collage of their sketches, and a printout of the equations from DESMOS.  I then hang these posters out in the hallway for everyone to enjoy.  This attracts students from all over the building to come check out what kind of cool activities we do in 8th grade.  I am even getting new 8th grade students asking me when we will start this project!

Starting with the Basics CL Desmos Style

So students were a bit overwhelmed with Desmos at first, so I had them do a quick activity with horizontal and perpendicular lines: create a logo from our school initials, CL.

Here are some examples of work I received.

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Thanks again Desmos, the Students are really loving playing around creating things.  It’s been a great end-of-year activity.  I hope this encourages them to use Desmos for their high school classes.