Stairwell to Heaven

by minton on April 25, 2018

There is a big surprise waiting for new users of the east Trexler stairwell between the second and third floors: it looks great! Jan Minton’s HNRS 241 Mathematics and Art class took on the project as part of their community engagement activity. The “grand opening” featured tea, cookies forming an M.C. Escher tiling (note the 3D-printed cookie cutter in the foreground), and guided tours of the installations.

Five displays augment the “mod 9” table done by a previous iteration of the course. Shannon Baker and Olivia Long explain the multiplication of colors, having previously shown off their Fibonacci Squares to Golden Rectangles spiral seen below.

Nathan Price and Sam McKnight created a colorful Cayley Table illustrating symmetries of the square and combinations of those symmetries. A staple of abstract algebra, the Cayley Table is given an attractive presentation here.

The finished product takes advantage of the square tiling of the stairwell walls and printed labels that stick nicely to the tiles. Sadie Klam and Elizabeth Knudsen carefully consulted their computer model before attaching the pieces of their Iterations: Block Stacking. You can see the Cayley Table under construction as well as one of the iterations of Liam Courtney and Sam Richardson’s Koch Snowflake Squared.

Gwyn Herndon and Drew Luther made sure that the stairs themselves were decorated. Pythagorean triangles are arranged to illustrate each of the seven border patterns to help you contemplate symmetry as you take yourself to the next level.

Thanks to HNRS 241, the drab transition from floor to floor in Trexler has become much more interesting and attractive.