The Building Blocks of Transcendental Beauty

From the day Archimedes began teaching the math he invented, all Middle School-age students in the Western World have, at one time or another, asked when they would ever need to know this stuff in the real world. While scholars know that Archimedes effectively discovered pi, it remains unclear whether he ever devised a satisfactory answer to that question.

So far as Cougar News knows, Elise Green has not yet uncovered a new transcendental number nor devised a way to burn enemy boats using only mirrors and the sun, but she has come up with a decidedly elegant answer to that timeless question.


“You can use math to create beauty,” said the Middle School math teacher, whose students recently finished a project in which they did exactly that. While cultivating a solid understanding of the fundamentals of geometry, Green’s students put that knowledge to work making stained glass windows whose form blends light and color “to lift the human spirit,” she said.

Before lifting any spirits however, the kids drew a rough draft incorporating 20 geometric figures from the glossary they compiled, defining in their own words terms such as scalene triangle and similar figures. Once Green approved the design, the students used the drawings as pseudo-stencils, placing them under panes of glass as a guide for the gooey black epoxy that would keep each painted section separate.

“It’s not hard to memorize terms,” Green said, “but it’s not fun either. When the kids make their windows, they’re not just passively taking in math; they’re actively and creatively applying it.

“Plus, they make great Mother’s Day presents.”