


Origami and STEM
(Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathetmatics)
On
September 5, 2018, speaker, Leslie Cefai, presented an
interesting and colorful program on her work with origami,
the Japanese art of paper folding. She uses it to augment
public school curricula with youngsters, particularly those
who may consider themselves mathadverse. Giving a square
of paper to each member of our group, she had us follow her
instructions. After five steps, we each had made a cup, or
it could be a hat, or perhaps a flower pot… Opened up
again, our square papers had folds demonstrating a number of
math concepts: a triangle, a right angle, an acute angle,
etc., etc. In fact, she can name dozens of math concepts
origami can illustrate with this simple operation. 






In her
sessions, children experience and successfully demonstrate
concepts like working as a group, cooperative problem
solving, etc. We tried our hands at some of the games.
Here’s one: put one hexagon (containing six colored
triangles of different colors) in the center and arrange the
other six hexagons so that each colored triangle is next to
a triangle of the same color. Can you see where our attempt
failed to achieve this objective? 




Leslie went
on to show many examples of paper folding – some that could
move, some that could expand and contract, etc. She showed
a number of structures that were combinations of similar,
smaller structures. And finally, she showed slides of uses
by medicine, the space program and industries that are using
origami concepts in their constructions. 

