Pythagoras day

Yesterday was 5/12/13 – numbers which make up a Pythagorean triple – the sides of a right-angled triangle. A guy called Marco Matosic spotted this quirk of the date system and decided to put on an event at the Ceredigion museum, involving various people from around aber. During the day about 150 pupils from local schools came through to stroll around the exhibits and learn a bit about Pythagoras.

I was there helping to run the computer installation, with Anne Marggraf-Turley from Coleg Ceredigion and Amanda Clare from aber uni (like me).

Amanda and I setting up before the day began

Our activity was based around the golden ratio, and I’d put together three computer programs that let kids experiment with the golden ratio and – hopefully – go away with some idea of what it is. Students from Anne’s IT class at Coleg Ceredigion made some posters about the golden ratio, pentagrams, and so on, and we borrowed laptops, projectors and screens to put it all together and make a stall. Turns out 8 year olds don’t really know about ratios, but hey. We had a go at explaining them.

Looking down on the museum from the top of the balcony

Our exhibit was in the middle of the auditorium; there were about 8 different activities going on in and around the museum, but I think we had the prime spot. Which was nice. One of our computer installations was just a rotating animation with the golden spiral in it, which we had running on a projector. The second involved a webcam with the golden ratio superimposed, and the kids had to move around infront of this to try and work out whether they could find the golden ratio in their face or body or hand (or whatever).

A kid testing out whether he can find the golden ratio in his hand

Once they’d found the golden ratio in something, they were asked to draw that on their workbook.

One of my favourite student drawings – this girl said she wanted to be an artist and usually draws much better than that (!)

The other computer program I put together for this was a game – really it’s a very basic game. Indeed you could call it the most rubbish computer game ever. There’s a rectangle on the screen, and you can drag the corners, and when you think you’ve got a rectangle that has the golden ratio you double click. If you get close, it flashes different colours, goes “YAY!!!”, and lets you enter your hiscore.

Some kids playing the world’s most basic computer game whilst one of the Coleg Ceredigion students looks on

Turns out that 8 year olds really like high score tables. One kid played the game for half an hour or so. Each school was in the museum for about 2 hours, moving around the exhibits, so there was time for kids to come back to their favourites and to hang around if they wanted (or to just experience the museum, which is a cracking place to look around) so I didn’t feel too guilty about Mr Hiscore, but honestly? 30 minutes? At least he’ll recognise the golden ratio now I guess…

The result of playing a game for 30 minutes

In all the day was good fun, and exhausting. I think the schoolkids enjoyed it, and it was great working with Anne and the lads from Coleg Ceredigion, we’ll have to do that again. I think the FE students enjoyed helping out too, although it might have taken them out of their comfort zone a bit!

I’ll put the web resources up somewhere publicly shortly, along with PDFs of the posters, and will update this post then with a link.


  1. Great pictures! They do capture what the day felt like.

  2. Hi, I wished to attend concert in evening but when I turned up at Ceredigion museum last week it had been cancelled due to illness. I hope all made full recovery and wondered if there are any plans to schedule concert again?

  3. Author

    Hi Sarah
    The arty bit in the evening was being organised by Marco Matosic – I’m afraid I didn’t really know much about that, I was just part of the sciencey bit in the daytime.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *