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Saturday, November 26, 2022

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Origami has perplexed enthusiasts since the 17th Century. Origami has perplexed enthusiasts since the 17th Century.

Paper Art Raises Learning Curve

SDSU professors use origami for a unique math class.
By Sandra De La Torre

Math and origami may seem like an unlikely pair, but two professors and the San Diego State University Bridges program found they belong together. It's part of a novel community college class.

The class, “Discovering Mathematics Through Origami,” was a week-long course that aimed to show students the versatility math can have as well as demonstrate an interesting and fun way it can be used through its integration with the arts, more specifically Origami art.

Nineteen students took the course and learned basic concepts in algebra, trigonometry and calculus. Each session incorporated lectures, video and origami folding activities.

By the end of the course, students had to create a piece of origami and give a presentation on a subject of their choice, showing how the paper art could benefit their area of interest.

“It was amazing, every student found a way it (origami) could be useful to them,”  said Satchi Venkataraman, an SDSU aerospace engineering professor who helped develop the course.

The class was offered this summer to help underrepresented community college students transition to a four-year baccalaureate program in the areas of biomedical and behavioral research.

Venkataraman, along with Arnold Tubis, a retired physics professor from Purdue University, worked in  collaboration with the SDSU Bridges program to create the course.

According to Venkataraman, paper folding techniques were the most challenging part of the course. 

“They (students) found out origami goes way beyond math and folding,” Venkataram said.