Elections Plus Math Equals Art

November 21, 2016 • After School Workshop

As a theatre major in college, my classmates and I were not required to take many general education requirements outside of the theatre department. For the non-theatre classes that we did take, many of us managed to bring a dramatic flare to them. I recall the math class that my friend took, in which the class worked together to make a poster answering the question, what is math? People wrote things on the poster like, “Math is love”, “Math is all around” and “Math is happiness”.

Fast forward and indeterminate number of years, and Magical Minds held an election for Class President and Vice President over 2 weeks. This included campaigning, voting and announcing the results. The night before we were due to proclaim the winner from the 3 parties that ran, we discovered that no team had won a clear majority of more than 50% of the popular votes. We decided that this was an apt moment to create an electoral college and show the kids the difference between how popular votes and electoral votes work. Each school became a state, each grouping of 3 students became a representative’s district, and they were all given 2 senators. And just like that, I remembered that math is all around, and we could visualize the results of the election, as well as the different voting blocs.

Math is all around and so is art. With a couple of pie graphs and a bar graph, we made illustrations to show the kids how much of the popular vote each party received, how much of the electoral vote each party received and the different values of the votes from the schools. We hope that the kids took away from the experience a sense of how the democratic process works in this country, but we also hope that they saw that art, design, math and even political representation are all connected. Who doesn’t get excited about brightly colored graphs?

The new Class President was away setting foreign policy, so the victory speech was given by the Class Vice President with eloquence and humility. Congratulations to our new Magical Minds Class President and Vice President!