From an early age, illustration has been my preferred medium to digest the world around me and to communicate ideas. Growing up in a big family, I was constantly surrounded by people which became my favorite subject matter. In addition to drawing, I found myself fascinated by mathematics and decided to pursue a career in teaching mathematics.
As a mathematics professor, my job is to communicate mathematical concepts. My recent work is focused on teaching mathematical concepts through illustration, graphic novels, and animation. By using illustration as a means of communication, I hope to help students experience mathematical concepts in a new light. Regardless of one’s background, I believe it is possible to see what has dazzled mathematicians for centuries. We live in a universe full of patterns, and mathematics provides us with the tools we need to explore them.
The “Symmetry” card game introduces players to the mathematical concepts of symmetry groups which are highly visual and accessible to students of all ages and backgrounds. Symmetry is a motion that leaves an object unchanged. In particular, an object has reflection symmetry if it looks the same after you reflect it across a line (called a mirror line). For example, the letter Y has reflection symmetry because it looks the same if you reflect it across a vertical line. An object has rotational symmetry if it looks the same after you rotate it about a point a certain number of degrees. For example, the letter S has rotational symmetry because it looks the same if you rotate it 180 degrees. A symmetry group is the collection of all symmetries of an object. Two objects belong to the same symmetry group if they have the same set of symmetries. For example, the letter Y and the letter M belong to the same symmetry group because they both have one reflection line and one rotation of 360 degrees. Similarly, the letters S and Z belong to the same symmetry group because they both can be rotated twice an angle of 180 degrees but have no reflection lines.
In the “Symmetry” game, each card depicts a character interacting with an object. The objects, which are also shown in the corners of each card, can be classified according to the symmetry groups they belong to. In other words, they can be classified by their reflection lines and rotations. The cards can be used to play several games, depending on the players’ skills. It is suggested to begin with SYMMETRY MEMORY, then SYMMETRY DROP, and then SYMMETRY RUMMY. All three games are described in the instructions that come along with the cards. In addition, since the cards are similar to standard playing cards, many other card games can be played with little adjustment.
To create the images on the cards, I first sketched them in pen and ink and then used digital tools to refine the drawings and add color. My hope is that the illustrations will inspire players to see and appreciate the symmetry in everyday objects.