Math + Making

A student blog for Math 189AH: Making Mathematics at Harvey Mudd College

Making Math with Nora!

Nora O’Connor

I had so much fun in this class and learned how to do lots of new things! As a non-math major it was really great to have some set time for doing math-related things. I also finally got shop certified and learned how to use the laser cutter.

Here are the projects I did!


During this short project, we made a penrose tiling out of flower petals and leaves from around campus!

We then taught other people how to add to our penrose tiling! It was really fun to collaborate and also a good way to explore the campuses.

Wallpaper Groups Box:

For this project I wanted to use the wood shop for the first time and build a box. Then, I wanted to display some of the wallpaper groups on it.

This is me learning how to use the chopsaw! To get started on this project I just went to the shop and learned how to use all of the wood cutting tools! After I felt comfortable with them, I built the box. It took me way longer than I though it would.

I really loved how it turned out though! After that I needed to add the wallpaper groups, which I’ve been trying to do with the laser cutter. I also have been making the patterns myself with a cool website:

I didn’t even know what an svg file was before this class, but I feel way more confident using the laser cutter now!

Fourier Tranform for Sound Responsive Visuals:

This project was also super fun! I messed around with using python and the FFT and then found another cool website where I could play with the code and generate cool audio responsive visuals: cool website [not clickbait!]

This was really inspired by a senior who lived at my dorm last year and would play dj sets + project cool stuff on the wall under the dorm! Its not really something I ever thought I would do or could do? But now I think its on my Harvey Mudd Bucket list.

(he was back on alumni weekend!!)


I took this class just because I thought it looked fun and it totally was! I’m really glad I got machine shop certified and I just feel more connected to lots of the resources at Harvey Mudd after this. I spent a lot of time just playing around with stuff and its hard to make time for that during school. I’m excited to have free time over the summer and do more cool projects! Its also pretty incredible to see all the amazing things people at Harvey Mudd are doing and how knowledgeable they are about things I know nothing about.

My other main takeaway is that I really had no experience or background knowledge for any of these projects but I was able to learn! I think the best way to do something is to just try and see what happens! And people usually are super willing to help. Speaking of, thanks to everyone who helped me out with all this (shop proctors, makerspace stewards, the rest of our class, prof. kagey, my friends who do cs <3)

Sidenote: I also had sm fun with some of the little activites we did before starting projects. Look at these scary svg eyes…..

And a fish!


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