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Leslie Lewis

Mathematical Art, Web Design, Teaching Mathematics with Art

Wheels of Theodorus

During our study of radical numbers, I showed students how easy it was to draw a line of length √2. In class we used square templates to draw two adjacent sides of a 1 inch by 1 inch square. Then the diagonal of that square, although being a difficult number to write as a decimal, was easily visualized as √2. We spent ½ of a class period using the hypotenuse of a 1 - 1 - √2 triangle and a new 1 inch, right-angled leg, to create a new right triangle adjacent to the first = 1 - √2 - √3 triangle.

After that class period involving drawing adjacent right triangles and using the Pythagorean Theorem to calculate the hypotenuses, the Wheel of Theodorus assignment was set as an at-home project.

Theodorus Turkey

Kyle created a turkey while incorporating the assigned Wheel of Theodorus.

Mollie made a beautiful Wheel that reminded her of a shell on the beach.


Dan created a hair style when he drew his Wheel. This is his Princess Leah.

JohnsJohn made his wheel into a french horn.


Will made a scary monster snail-thing for his Wheel.


Kristina's involved a tongue and a lolly pop.


Luke's was interesting.


Melanie drew a beach ball in use.

Jessica's Sunburst

Jessica's sun


Ben created a snail on the beach.

For more information on this project, click below to see my article in the NCTM's Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School.

Irrational Numbers can Inspiral You; MTMS, April, 2007

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