A Mysterious Greek Box

hexagonal box greeceHey there, kids! Come, gather ’round,

Learn about things long lost in the ground.

I have lots of stories from my travels in Greece,

And pictures, too, that you’ll think are real neat.


In ancient Greece, the people took care

To decorate everything, and leave nothing bare

Because they loved beauty, in all of its forms.

Take this box, for example; see how well it’s adorned!


Look at it closely, it’s thousands years old,

Would you have known that if you hadn’t been told?

The carvings are gold, each the same as the next.

If carved by hand, after each one you’d rest!



In this hexagon box, with its six paneled sides,

I wonder what treasures were buried inside!

What’s it called, this box based on six?

It was a medicine box; the Greek word: “pyxis.”


It’s been through a lot – it was buried underground.

We’re very lucky that it was eventually found!

The world’s full of history and awesome sites to see.

I hope you travel soon, but ’til then, follow me!

Greek Hexagon Box: Can You Tell When This Was Made?

hexagonal box greeceAlthough Greece was established over 2500 years ago, the resemblance between some ancient artifacts and modern items is uncanny. For example, look at this box – would you believe it is thousands of years old?

While in Athens, I visited the National Archeological Museum and saw many very interesting historical artifacts. One of the most intricate and impressive pieces of history I saw was this box made of wood and gold. The box, also known as a pyxis, or small medicinal box, is a hexagonal prism in form, with matching engravings on each of the six sides depicting deer being attacked by lions. The exact symmetry of these engravings is phenomenal, especially when considering that each intricate line and detail was carved by hand! The amount of effort required to create such an item makes me wonder whether the shape had a special meaning in ancient Greece.

This small piece of history is another wonderful example of how the world is full of arithmetic and provides a great opportunity to discuss the ancient and enduring relationship between geometry, art, and history.

The Relationship Between Art and Math: Intentional or Unavoidable?

At a glance, art and math are at very different ends of the subject spectrum. However, upon closer inspection it becomes clear that they truly go hand in hand. At the most fundamental, math is found in art in every line, angle, shape, form, dimension, and pattern. Without even thinking about it, artists use math every time they pick up their paintbrush, pencil, clay – whatever medium they choose. Even if artists are free-handing, they are subconsciously measuring and calculating as they work. There are clear standard dimensions for a face, for example; the eyes have to be a certain distance apart, and within a certain distance from the chin. These measurements may not be precise, but they are a form of applied mathematics. Although rarely emphasized or taught explicitly in school, math is integral to and inseparable from art, and art brings math from the abstract to a visual format. For visual learners, art could be a valuable tool in learning how math can be applied in the real world.

Dr. Klemm to speak at the July 12th STEAM 4.0 + MeWEE Conference

July 12, 2017

Rebecca Klemm, PhD is headed out to Northern Virginia to the STEAM 4.0 & Meaningful Watershed Experiences Professional Development Workshops presented by the Virginia Association of Science Teachers, Region IV. The conference will take place at the Charles Colgan Sr High in Manassas, VA.

She will speak twice:

9:05-10:05, Number Links with Team Ten for Elementary Teachers

12:05-1:05, Building NumberOpolis!s about Building NumberOpolis for MS and HS Teachers






Ancient Grecian Urn

Grecian UrnJust imagine all the engaging math lessons this beautiful Grecian Urn can inspire!

Look at all the patterns on its surface. How many do you count? There are lots of geometric shapes making up the patterns. I see triangles, rhombi, and squares. I also see some funny shapes that have one curved side, like the people kneeling, and some shapes that have lots of sides and go on and on and on all around the urn in the part that looks like a maze. What names would you give these shapes?

Notice the cracks covering the urn’s surface. It is very old, and was buried underground for many years, probably thousands! The archaeologists, people who study human history, who found it had to put it back together, piece by piece, like a big 3D puzzle. Do you think it was tricky? I think the patterns might have given them a few clues!

I don’t think those patterns were easy to carve, though. Back when this urn was decorated, the design had to be carefully thought out, drawn, and measured, all by hand! The Ancient Greeks only had simple tools to help them, not powerful electric tools and computer programs like we have today. Do you think you could plan a design for an urn without any technology? Give it a try!

Where else do you see patterns in the world around you? Dishes are still decorated with patterns that go all the way around! And 9’s favorite sweater has a repeating pattern of black and white stripes, just like the stripes on this urn. What other patterns do you use or see every day?

Greece’s Rio-Antirrio Bridge

rio-antirrio bridge

The proof of arithmetic is everywhere you look.  On my recent trip to Greece, this was proven profoundly through the artifacts and architecture in and around this gorgeous city. One of the most spectacular examples of the vivid world of arithmetic lives within the Rio-Antirrio Bridge, one of the world’s longest suspension bridges.

The support cables create a sail-like appearance!

The bridge is supported by four pylons; these are the large posts that reach from the bottom of the Gulf of Corinth to a whopping max of 524 feet (160m) above sea-level. Reaching further into the architecture arithmetic, each pylon splits into four beams creating an open area square pyramid atop the initial hexagonal structure of the lower pylon. This design was chosen in order to limit the amount of wind contact on each part of the bridge. The base of each pylon sits on the bottom of the gulf and is able to move laterally to absorb potential seismic activity.

Despite the use of the pylons, no part of the actual bridge is supported by the pylons, but by a multitude of suspension cables. Eight sets of 23 suspension cables connect from the top of each pylon to each of the five spans. The spans are all connected by six different expansion joints. When added together, they total an impressive 9,449 feet (2880m) in length across a 2- mile (3 km) expanse of water.

With so many visual measurements, basic arithmetic is easy to accomplish. How many support cables are there? How many pylons can you see? What shape is at the top of each pylon? These are just a few questions you could ask to stir immersive and critical learning centered around travel and bridges.

For more information see the links below.




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