M.C. Esher born 1898 and died in 1972. He is best known for his use of tessellations in his art work. You've seen his work even if you don't know it. Among other things, he did several drawings where stairs seem to go back upon itself.
He is perfect for using in a math class during tessellations and transformations because he uses both in his artwork. This YouTube video does a lovely job of introducing M.C. Escher's work while discussing the mathematics of it.
The question becomes how did he create it? Well there is a wonderful 32 page teachers guide from the Akron Art museum on it.
The guide includes the mathematics behind the topic. After introducing M.C. Escher, the first lesson begins by discussing different types of symmetry. Next students are expected to identify the type of symmetry used in the examples.
Lesson 2 focuses on three dimensional shapes such as those found in crystals. The lesson includes information on faces, vertices, and edges so they get the vocabulary. Lesson 3 goes on to look at architecture, parallel and perpendicular lines, and creating cubes out of isometric paper. Lesson 4's topic is reasoning through the use of a Mobius strip and includes real life uses. All four lessons focus on the mathematics involved. The remaining part of the pdf focuses on art. I like the way the math lessons are created.
You Tube has several nice videos on creating general tessellations in the Escher method including this 11 minute one which is slow and takes things step by step. At the end students have one but the form is not specific. If students want to create a more specific shaped tessellations check this video shows how to create a Escher Bird Tessellation step by step on sketchpad.
In addition Tessellations.org has some great instructions using tracing paper and equilateral triangles. In fact the whole site is devoted to tessellations. They even have a version of Angry Birds in a tessellation form.
I'm finishing this up for two reasons. First, there have been two power outages already this afternoon in the last 15 minutes and second, I have to finish packing for a trip I am taking to Los Angeles. I needed to get ahead so I do not miss anything.
Let me now what you think. I love hearing from people.