Teaching geometrical figures with TANGRAM

One of the boxes created in the My Box of STEAM project is Geometrical figures. And how could we teach basic geometrical shapes in primary school if not with the well-known TANGRAM?

The origins of Tangram stretch back to the third century Chinese mathematician Liu Hui. Among many other accomplishments, Liu Hui used rearrangements of geometrical shapes to elegantly explain mathematical facts such as the Gougu Rule, also known as Pythagoras’ Theorem.

The Tangram is important for teaching STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) for several reasons:

Interdisciplinary learning: Tangram integrates different STEAM disciplines. Students need to analyze geometric shapes, understand spatial relationships, and apply mathematical concepts to solve tangram puzzles. This cross-curricular approach reflects the interconnected nature of the STEAM disciplines.

Critical Thinking: tangram puzzles require logical reasoning, problem solving and spatial visualization. These skills are fundamental to the STEAM domains because they encourage students to approach complex problems in a systematic way.

Creativity and design thinking: Creating unique shapes and figures using tangrams encourages creativity and design thinking. This artistic aspect aligns with the letter “A” in STEAM, encouraging innovation and the ability to think outside the box.

Geometry and Math: Tangram puzzles inherently involve geometry and mathematical concepts such as symmetry, congruence and spatial measurement. By solving these puzzles, students develop a deeper understanding of these mathematical principles.

Hands-on learning: Tangram is a hands-on activity that engages students in active learning. Manipulating physical pieces to solve puzzles provides a tactile and kinesthetic learning experience that can be particularly beneficial for some students.

Cultural and historical context: Tangram puzzles have a rich cultural and historical context, originating in China and spreading worldwide. Teaching Tangrams can provide an opportunity to explore the cultural aspects of STEAM, promoting a broader understanding of these topics.

Adaptability: tangram puzzles can be adapted for learners of different ages and skill levels. They can start with simple puzzles and progress to more complex puzzles as their skills grow, making it a versatile tool for educators.

Collaborative learning: Tangram puzzles can be solved individually or in groups, promoting collaboration and teamwork. This social aspect aligns with the STEAM approach, as many real-world STEAM projects involve collaboration between different experts.

Engaging and fun: Tangram puzzles are enjoyable and rewarding, which can promote a love of STEAM topics. When students find learning enjoyable, they are more likely to pursue studies and careers in these fields.

Real-world applications: While tangram puzzles are a classic form of entertainment and education, the spatial and geometric skills learned from them have practical applications in fields such as architecture, engineering, computer graphics and more.

In conclusion, tangrams are a valuable tool for STEAM teaching as they promote interdisciplinary learning, critical thinking, creativity and practical engagement while connecting with cultural and historical issues. It aligns well with STEAM education goals and can inspire students to explore and excel in these diverse areas.

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