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Nov. 12, 8:00 am

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Jonathan Wolfe - The Fractal Foundation return to list >
Photo: Jonathan Wolfe - The Fractal Foundation

Jonathan Wolfe, Executive Director of the Fractal Foundation, attended Escuela del Sol in the early 1970s, at which time his parents predicted he would be a scientist and a kinetic sculptor. Both predictions came true. After studying in Switzerland and at the Albuquerque Academy, Jonathan earned a Ph.D in Neuroscience from the University of Pennsylvania. Upon returning home to NM, he formed the Fractal Foundation, an educational nonprofit that uses the beauty of fractals to inspire interest in science, math and art. He has taught fractals to over 40,000 people all over the world, and produces the award winning planetarium show "First Friday Fractals." He is also the creator of several gigantic flying artworks, fractal-inspired tie-dyed balloons that grace the skies of New Mexico.

Jonathan will be working with Escuela's Senior Elementary class on February 19 with an Introduction to Fractals. Jonathan likes to remind students that "They already know a lot about fractals! Even if they've never heard the term, they're familiar with the fractal patterns of nature, things like trees, rivers, lightning, clouds, spirals, etc." Jonathan shows students how complex shapes like these are formed by repeating simple processes over and over. Students get to practice this together during the hands-on fractal-making activity, where the kids will be making fractal triangles. Each triangle is made up of smaller and smaller triangles.Then three of the students' triangles are combined  to make a larger triangle; then 3 groups of 3 to make an even bigger one. "So far, over 2000 children all over New Mexico have created fractal triangles that we'll be assembling in a giant collaborative art/math project we call the Fractal Trianglethon. The giant assembly will take place on March 14th at the Convention Center, and we're aiming to have a judge from the Guinness Book of World Records certify this as the largest fractal triangle ever made. This is math made fun and exciting!"

In conjunction with the presentation, we'll be installing a large fractal banner on the Mountain Road side of the Harwood. This is one of the winners from last year's Albuquerque Fractal Challenge, a City-funded project to take student-made mathematical fractals and turn them into giant public artworks. We anticipate this will generate a good bit of excitement and anticipation for the students to learn about fractals!

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