Innovation: George Rickey Kinetic Sculpture
South Bend 2009 - 2010

Lesson 2: Symmetry and Balance
Grades 5-8
(could also be developed for K-4 or 9-12)
Resources: (1)More
pictures of Rickey sculptures; (2) Three 30 second videos of the sculptures

    Possible Questions
What are examples of symmetry and lack of symmetry in your everyday world?
Do you need symmetry for a balance to work?
Is symmetry important in design, in works of art?
Do you like objects which are symmetric or non-symmetric?
How do Rickey sculptures look symmetric/not symmetric?

Teacher help:
Discuss what we mean by symmetry - mostly through examples - eg in real space - about a axis, through a point; in time - forward and back, etc
examples include - mirrors, the human body, buildings left/right or up/down - periodic motion = to and fro in time and space.
Discuss lack of symmetry or breakdown of symmetry
In groups - ask the students to come up with their definition of symmetry
(Hands-on) build a sculpture that moves, then describe its symmetry or symmetries
How is each sculpture not quite symmetric, or does it use its symmetry or asymmetry to enhance the motion? Instead of building models, groups of students could anlyze different Rickey sculptures and report back to the whole group.
Summing up the experience: Compare the models that have been built and discuss how they break their symmetry
Extensions: Return to the question: Do you like objects which are symmetric or non-symmetric?
Have the students give examples.
Discuss where you see symmetry affects in so lots of things in our everyday world - buildings, flowers, animals, rockets...
Are beauty and symmetry related? (this question could be posed directly for some of the Rickey sculptures)

Some Standards

Sociology #2.9: Prepare original written and oral reports and presentations on specific events, people or historic
Language Arts #8.7: Students deliver focused, coherent presentations that convey ideas clearly
            and relate to the background and interests of the audience.
Math #3 Students sort and classify objects (Algebra and Functions).
Science #3 Students investigate, describe, and discuss their natural surroundings. They begin to question why things move.(Physical setting)