Origami and Mathematics

My interest in origami was initiated by Yuki and Reiko, two Japanese exchange students we hosted. The photo below shows two beautiful hexagonal boxes and their lids they presented to us – excellent examples of modular origami.

I then set out to find as many books and websites on paper folding that I could. I gathered together many models and activities into one book (its cover is shown below). I found that paper folding was an intriniscally motivating activity for many students. Now I would not dream of teaching a geometry unit without some paper folding. There are some very obvious applications such as:

1. Polygons – triangles, rhombus, pentagon, hexagon, octagon, etc.

2. Angle Properties – eg. 180 degrees in a triangle, trisection, etc.

3. Polyhedra – cube, rectangular prism, tetrahedron, octagon, etc.

4. Symmetry

5. Powers of 2

6. Algebra and Problem Solving

Any serious study of Origami should include the story of Sadako Sasaki. This heart rending story of a young Japanese girl who has Leukaemia results in Sadako trying to fold 1000 paper cranes. I highly recommend that you read “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes” by Eleanor Coerr. My Origami Self Assessment rubric covers a unit of work that starts with reading this book and finishes with the student having to teach someone else to fold their chosen model.

Origami is such a vast topic that I cannot begin to do it justice in this short blog post. But take my advice and go on a jouney of self discovery – you and your students will love it!

Check out my origami web links on Diigo.

You can print various origami paper here or here

Karen Bass’ students listed the following things they had learned/experienced through her “mathagami” projects. Patience, precision, “don’t give up”, creativity, geometric concepts, and that math class is fun.

My favourite origami model’s are: shirt, sonobe cube, fancy box and modular swan (pictured). Their is no doubt in my mind however, that the richest mathematical origami task is folding a circle into a truncated triangular pyramid. But that is material for another future blog post.

Have fun folding and let me know what your favourite model is.

I have been teaching Mathematics in Victorian secondary schools for 30 years. I use the www to make my maths lessons better. I hope this blog will give other teachers some ideas to try in their own classes.
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8 Responses to Origami and Mathematics

1. I never thought about the relationship between origami amd maths before- although it seems so obvious now. *grin* I love origami – great relaxation – if it’s not too hard – still can’t make the white crane – but I have made over 2,500 kabuto helemts to give out to kids at school author talks. I can make those with my eyes closed! Where can o find a copy of your book?

2. webmaths says:

Thanks for your comment Sandy – I’m guessing you found my blog post by searching for origami and/or cranes? Also thanks for the writing advice on your blog. I have not published my book due to copyright concerns. Rather I produced it as a resource for teachers – saving them the time I have spent searching the web and gathering these together.
Regards, Jeff

3. Mia says:

Thank you for sharing your origami links! You have a great blog – I’m always looking for interesting and useful new web sites!

4. Hi Jeff,

Your blog is proof Maths can be fun. I am always looking for ways to present writing and reading related ideas to kids – I don’t have a teaching background so need all the help (and props) I can find. Your site has already given me a number of spin off ideas. I have this theory Maths and creative writing are linked much closer than people think. 🙂 Sandy

5. Book Chook says:

Sandy told me about your post so I came to look. Great blog! I guess I am more of a “blog about literacy and literature” person, but I would love to increase my awareness of the interconnections between Maths and literacy.

6. Pingback: Stories and Story Shells « Webmaths

7. Drake says:

May I know the procedures of this origami? I need it ASAP. Thanks

8. dorinda says:

how do you link Algebra with origami?