Math IS Real Life – March 2014 Edition

It’s the first Wednesday of March which means it’s time for our monthly linky – Math IS Real Life!!  If you want to see how the linky works, or just want other real world math ideas, check out our Pinterest Board of all the posts so that you can look back and find some great ideas and REAL pictures to use in your classroom!  
If you are linking up, please include the below picture AND a link back to all four of our blogs – feel free to use the 2nd image and the links listed below!
A monthly REAL WORLD math blog link-up hosted by
Two weekends ago my family and I headed to Washington DC for the day.  We were all meeting up to go to the Newseum, but while I was there, I couldn’t help but see the mathematical beauty in the architecture all around me.  My 5th graders are currently working on angles and I started snapping pictures to show them in class.They had a great time looking for all the angles.  We also talked symmetry, reflections, and patterns. Here are some of the pictures I shared with them:

The United States Archives

In this first picture we looked at the Obtuse and Acute Angles in the triangle above the columns.  Some students point out how the columns were parallel and other students noticed the right angles, rectangles, and tessellation of the windows.

The Newseum

In this picture student point out how “straight” the building looked.  They noticed all the right angles, rectangles and tessellations of windows.  We talked about how this was a newer building which is part of the reason for the more modern, sleek architecture.

Looking up as you enter the Newseum

When we entered the Newseum, my eyes were immediately drawn upward. The geometry was beyond amazing!  I may have stared for a bit….


The Canadian Embassy

After leaving the Newseum, we walked past the Canadian Embassy.  I just had to snap a picture for all my Canadian friends!  Also, check out all the amazing geometric features (and the pattern and spacing of the flags as my students pointed out!)

The National Gallery East Building

On our way to our next stop we also passed by the beautiful glass pyramids outside the National Gallery!


The Capitol

We also passed by the highly symmetrical Capitol and had to take an obligatory tourist picture!  (Have you noticed how beautiful the weather was that day!)


National Museum of the American Indian

Our final destination in D.C was the most amazing architectural building I’ve ever seen in person! Can you imagine trying to figure out all the math behind those curves?!

National Museum of the American Indian

I was in such awes that I just kept standing under the curves, looking up, and snapping more pictures!

National Museum of the American Indian

I plan to show these pictures to my Algebra students once they begin studying quadratic equations.

Inside the National Museum of the American Indian.

AND if those curves outside weren’t enough… check out the gorgeous concentric circles that make up the ceiling as you look up on the interior of the building!

Okay, okay, enough with the amazing architecture of D.C…. check out two of “math” finds on the inside of the Newseum.

The first is a copy of “The Athenian Mercury” from June 3, 1693.  YES, how cool is that?!
 The second were really cool graphs that depicted top networks and the amount of viewers they have on a nightly basis. Check out the #3 and how it is broken into “pie chunks”!

Another non-architectual “math” find was this gorgeous piece of pottery found in the National Museum of the American Indian.  Can you imagine how difficult making that piece was, much less how crazy it must have been to decorate that with organic ink by hand? Look at that rotational symmetry!!

My Sister-in-law, who is a Grad Student at John Hopkins in the Museum Studies program commented at the end of the day how she loved watching all of us as we experienced the day.  I saw math in everything…. my other SIL saw the organic rawness and naturalness in all the pieces, my MIL saw the art and design in everything….
At the end of the day, we all enjoyed our D.C. together, but at the same time, in our own way! Have you ever taken a day and just looked at the math in everything?  I challenge you to step back, take a camera, and just enjoy the beauty in that Math that is in your Real Life… it really is EVERYWHERE!!

Categories: #mirl, geometry and measurement, and math is real life.


  1. It is my first time linking up with your group and I am so excited to have found others excited about math! I also noticed you had a WV and VA blogger button. I grew up in WV and recently moved to SC from VA. Such a small world!

    • Welcome to the link-up! I giggled a bit this morning when I saw you link-up as we actually have a common friend (Tabatha K). You and I have met a few times! How’s that for a small world?! Love your website! Looks like you are doing some amazing things! I hope you continue to join us each month 🙂

    • The American Indian Museum IS Beautiful!! I had never been before so it was quite the experience! Thank you so much for your kind nomination 🙂 Headed over to check out your blog!

  2. We love visiting Washington D.C. as well! I think you might have uploaded the wrong picture when talking about the White House though…. Isn’t that the Capitol Building pictured?

  3. I worked on a middle school team with an incredible Math teacher, and we worked together on a similar project for our trip to Chicago. The students took pictures of all the beautiful architecture, and then they had to do a multi-disciplinary assignment on the historical components and the mathematical features of a set number of the buildings. We had some incredible work turned in and it was fun along the way!

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