Fractal Christmas Trees

Lauren Stockton The final week of the autumn term is usually a time of reflection, winding down and most importantly Christmas activities. One of my classes are really inquisitive especially when you introduce them to new mathematical concepts. I decided that after a week of assessments behind them it was a good time to let them free on a little project for a lesson.

Matt Parker's (@standupmaths) ThinkMaths' Fractal Christmas tree is a great mix of challenge and fun. After a quick run down on fractals with me, I let them decipher how they could build the tree themselves. I had printed the nets on green paper and the stars on yellow but didn’t give them any clues of how many were there and whether they would need them all.  It was impressive how they quickly worked out that they would need 64 tetrahedrons to complete the tree, then they organised themselves into groups to get building. It was nice to hear them asking questions and convincing each other how to solve the problem the quickest. Most of them were contributing tetrahedrons to the tree while a couple of small groups were tackling the Koch Snowflake star.

Fractal Christmas TreeIn the final phase of building one group took on the role of organisation, meanwhile I was running round like a crazy lady with the two rolls of cello tape that I’d thought would be enough. With barely a minute to spare of the 55 minute lesson they presented me with their completed tree. It was a brilliant representation of their hard work and surprisingly quite structurally sound! It’s definitely worth doing this activity with any class, and you get a free Christmas decoration for your classroom as an added bonus!

By Lauren Stockton