Italian Art Through Mathematics: Engaging Students Through Artistic Exploration




Pescaia, Ryan Lee

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This project shows a potential lesson plan to be used in a high school pre-calculus and evaluates the effectiveness of this strategy by synthesizing and analyzing similar projects. The students will select an interesting piece of art displayed in a designated museum or art gallery, and then recreate the image using conic equations. The students will then write a calculator program with the equations for the conic diagram. The program is expected to output an image, which will then be printed, and the class will create a (quite literal) art gallery with their conic images. The lesson is demonstrated with Botticelli’s Birth of Venus (displayed in the Ufizzi in Florence, Italy) as the subject with the output image attached. The lesson presented addresses the same mathematics content except it includes an artistic slant; this will not only allow for a real-world application, but also provide a more engaging mathematical experience to students who are not the typical “math people.” Furthermore, this project promotes a great amount of cooperation and allows students to almost instantly realize and correct their mistakes in their programs, and learn the effects of various transformations on conic equations. Lesson plans similar to this have been proven to engage students, provide fruitful educational results and foster real world learning.



mathematics education, curriculum, pedagogy, Botticelli, Venus, Italian art, conics, lesson plans, Honors College


Pescaia, R. (2016). Italian art through mathematics: Engaging students through artistic exploration (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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