Visiting Scientist to science clubs and elementary school classrooms
(ongoing). Popular presentations are as follows:
Art, Mathematics, or
Dr. de Vries will present a hands-on workshop in which we will explore
3-dimensional aspects of mathematics through origami. We will
learn how to fold one simple unit or building block. By combining
many such units, we will construct a variety of beautiful, colourful
geometric structures. By doing so, we will discover properties of
polyhedra and learn about symmetry.
Discovering Euler's Formula
In this workshop, Dr. de Vries guides the students in a playful
exploration of polygons and polyhedra. We will learn about the
classification of polyhedra as regular, semi-regular, or
other. In small groups, students carefully examine one
polyhedron model, and summarize their discoveries to the rest of the
class. Once all the information has been gathered, the class
works together to develop Euler's Formula, which relates the number of
surfaces, vertices, and edges in a polyhedron. Euler's Formula is
named after Euler, who first discovered the formula in 1750. To
date, every class visited has succeeded in developing this famous
formula! If time permits, students will construct polyhedra with
toothpicks and marshmallows (yum).
Using Soap to Solve a Famous Math
What is the shortest road that that will connect four cities, located
on the four corners of a square? Does the road have the shape of
an H, or a different shape altogether? This problem is known as
Steiner problem. Dr. de Vries will guide students to experiment
different road shapes, compare and discuss different shapes, and
classify them into categories (classification is something
mathematicians love to do). To date, at least one student in
classroom visited has developed the correct solution to the Steiner
problem! At the end of the presentation, we will play with soap
solutions, and take advantage of the properties of soap films to
construct solutions to the Steiner problem.
Students investigate and create fractal cards, which are eye-catching
pop-up cards with fractal properties, obtained through iterative
Students create kaleidocycles, which are rings of connected
tetrahedra. The ring can be twisted continuously inwards or
outwards to show different sides of the tetrahedra. Students are
challenged to figure out ways to colour the sides of the tetrahedra to
illustrate properties of symmetry.
The Tessellations of M.C. Escher
The artist MC Escher (1898 - 1972) is well known for using
tessellations in his work. His intricate tessellations of birds,
fish, and reptiles are based on transformations of polygons such as
triangles, quadrilaterals, and hexagons. Dr. de Vries will guide
students in their exploration of Escher's artwork to discover how he
did it, and lead students through a series of exercises to create their
DNA, Knots, and Knot Theory
There are enzymes that convert rings of DNA from one topological form
to another, linking them, and even tying them into knots. It is
believed that the enzymes take part in genetic replication and
transcription. Learn how the mathematical theory of knots is used
to decude how the enzymes tangle and disentangle DNA.
Judge, Edmonton Regional Science Fairs (1999, 2000, 2002).
Judge, Canada-Wide Science Fairs, University of British Columbia (1991)
and University of Alberta (1999).
Speaker on Escher Tilings at the CMS-ESSO Math Camp, held at the
of Alberta, August 2000.
Developed Origami: Art, Science, or
Architecture?, a workshop exploring
3-dimensional aspects of mathematics through origami. Presented
World, Vancouver, the Discover the Possibilities conference at Simon
Fraser University, Burnaby, and the U.B.C. Shad Valley summer program
Conducted Euclid workshops, developed by the Department of Mathematics,
University of British Columbia, for senior high school students (1992 -
Speaker at the U.B.C. Shad Valley summer program. Presented a lecture
topology and soap bubbles (1993, 1994).
Volunteer and contract staff at Science World, Vancouver (1991 - 1995).
Developed MathemArtistics, a
workshop on art and mathematics. Presented
at Science World, Vancouver, and Big Sisters, Vancouver (1993).