Hexaflexagons!

 From the Daily Post: You have three hundred words to justify the existence of your favorite person, place, or thing. Failure to convince will result in it vanishing without a trace. Go!

For anybody who hasn’t seen any of youtuber Vihart’s videos before, she recently created a series of interesting videos about hexaflexagons; essentially a thin strip of paper folded into a hexagon by first folding it into a line of equilateral triangles, then following the folds in the triangles to make a hexagon.

 

So what? Well, they’re not just any old hexagon, you can turn them inside out (or flexing) to find different sides, and doing this in a certain way means you disocver new sides. Logic would tell you that it would have two sides, but you can make ones with 3 or even 6 sides.

 

This feature is why they should exist – they’re a fun way of teaching maths to children because it’s visual and interactive – you can see for yourself the effects of maths in real-time in your hands, instead of on a whiteboard or screen.

 

Even more useful is their unusual property, with the six sided hexaflexagon, of having the same sides in different states – to understand better what I mean by this video. This allows children to be introduced to diagrams, in this case a Feynman diagram, and helps them to develop their lateral thinking.

Still not convinced hexaflexagons are worth saving? They can also be used to help exaplin A2 Chemistry, in particular the topic of chirality, because depending on how you twisted the original piece of paper, you get a non-superimposable mirror image hexaflexagon – one way the flaps face clockwise, and in the other they face antoclockwise.

 

Above all, they are fun and can be used to improve artistic ability – what you draw on one face will appear different on another so there begins the challenge of a pattern that looks good on all the faces.

You can even make hexaflexagons out of tortillas for a delicious yet mathematical combination!

 

I hope I’ve convinced you that hexaflexagons are worth saving, and don’t forget to cast your vote in the poll below to protect the humble hexaflexagon!

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2 thoughts on “Hexaflexagons!

  1. I’m definitely not a math wiz, but the idea of using this for artistic purposes sounds like a really good project, I might try it 🙂

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