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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 math-adverse.  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.


We were invited to handle and examine.  And, we did!