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Artistry in geometry: students’ innovative work featured

Posted on Thursday, June 13, 2013 at 11:45 am

Left to right: Madison Pierson, Connor Pemberton, Chris Fols, Ethan White, Carlie Pemberton, Joseph Litzinger and Carter Packett

Left to right: Madison Pierson, Connor Pemberton, Chris Fols, Ethan White, Carlie Pemberton, Joseph Litzinger and Carter Packett.

Seven young pioneers have explored a new mathematical landscape at Richmond County Intermediate – and they have done so in artistic style.

For the first time in the middle school’s history, two veteran teachers, Cindy Packett and Martha Fidler, have launched a Geometry class that seeks to prepare students for early entrance into Algebra II.

With seven 8th graders getting ready to complete the first implementation of the class at RCIS, they are closing out the 2012-2013 school year by demonstrating what they have learned through geometrical paintings that reflect the character and beauty of Richmond County.

The students, Packett and Fidler determined, would paint geometric shapes onto four-by-four plywood posters that will be displayed at the Richmond County Fair, Aug. 20-24. The shapes in the paintings represent barn quilt patterns.

Moreover, the students had to pick the designs they would paint based on concepts that closely resembled Richmond County.

In assigning a final project that tied mathematics together with art and the community, Packett was influenced by both her passion for the fair, as well as her work as a quilter and member of the Uptown Quilt Guild.

“She just thought it would be a fun thing to do to incorporate geometry, do something for the community and just give them a little project to work on,” Fidler said of Packett.

As the first students at RCIS to have taken Geometry, Fidler called them “troopers” for their dedication and flexibility.

“The classes really don’t start until 8:30 a.m., [but] this is the first year we’ve taught Geometry, and so we’d come in, at just about 8 a.m. We started the class, and they didn’t complain,” Fidler said. “It was an hour-and-a-half, instead of the normal class, but…they’ve just gone along with whatever [we decided to do].”

The students in the class eagerly shared the patterns they had put together.

Joseph Litzinger displayed a hand-drawn sketch he had used to create his painting of the “Old Country American Flag,” a quilt design that emphasized the county’s deep-seeded patriotism.

“It was different though in the fact that it didn’t have just straight lines going across,” Litzinger said. “Half of the board is actually a triangle.  The other half happens to be a square with a white star in it and then two smaller triangles. But then they do follow the red, white and blue.”

Madison Pierson’s painting of a sailboat captured the region’s affinity with the nearby Rappahannock River, while the work of Chris Fols, which was based on the Churned Ash, stirred up images of the butter churn, stressing the importance of farming on the Northern Neck.

An intricate mixture of red, black and white squares, rectangles and long triangles came together in Ethan White’s rendition of the Bear’s Claw quilt pattern.

White was quick to call the barn quilt project his favorite assignment in the class.

When asked why, he replied with a smile: “Because I get to paint stuff.”

Carter Packett said the class was “something different” from what she had done before in school or in other classrooms.

“Nobody else makes barn posters,” she said, with which her classmates agreed.

Fols called the Geometry course his all-time favorite math class.

Litzinger pointed out that the class was more of a “hands-on experience versus sitting in a class and looking up at a projector screen.

“You work with shapes, you actually get to measure out what you need to and you apply that,” said Litzinger, who added that geometrical patterns could be used in graphing design or in a potential future career as an architect.

“It’s small steps, but, you know, you’ve got to start somewhere,” he said.

Carlie and Connor Pemberton will also have their paintings displayed at the fair in August.