Hidden Jewels of Geometry
Unmixed Messages - Strategies for Equitable Science Education

Main Idea

When engineers design and build buildings, cars, and even medical or farming equipment, they use their knowledge of structures and shapes so that the things they build will be sturdy and attractive. On a smaller scale, jewelry crafters use knowledge about the same geometric shapes to make earrings, necklaces, brooches and other jewelry.


Making jewelry involves thinking about symmetry and shapes. By experimenting with various shapes and sizes, students can make attractive jewelry while learning about geometry.

Learning Objectives


1 hour, plus drying time

Introducing the Concept

Have the students cut out a number of large shapes made from straight lines. Discuss these shapes in terms of perimeter (the sum of the lengths of the sides); interior angles (use a protractor to measure the arcs between adjacent sides); relative size and any symmetries; and whether any shapes are mirror images. Introduce the idea that straight-lined shapes are often labeled based on the number of sides they have. Have the students label the shapes. The name, number of sides and perimeter should all appear on the shape.



Cut the magazine and other types of paper into various shapes to make earrings, using the following criteria:

  1. Each side of an individual shape must be equal in length.
  2. You must use at least four shapes (which can be different sizes).


Teaching Tips

Science All Around Us

If you are interested in exploring other areas where geometry and design feature in everyday life, introduce your students to the field of architecture. All of the buildings we see around us contain shapes. Your science classroom itself houses hundreds. Have your students identify the shapes in their classroom and the purpose they serve.

Explore the concept of “matching.” For instance, why do certain shapes, textures, colors and designs appear more pleasing than others do when put together?


If you are feeling ambitious, you may want to make a little bit of money from your science activity. Discuss with the students various ways to market and sell your science crafts. You can use the business venture in a variety of subjects including art for packaging, writing for the advertisements, math for the sales and so forth.

Have the students create other types of jewelry such as pins, bracelets and necklaces. Use other shapes when creating jewelry. With higher-level groups, you may make the activity more challenging by requiring that the students create a certain number of three-dimensional shapes.


Association for the Promotion and Advancement of Science Education
APASE - Promoting Science Education

This activity copied from APASE of Vancouver, Canada, which has regrettably disappeared from the Web.
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