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M&M Math Competition emphasises link with the arts

Published:Sunday | June 29, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Austrian Composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart


As kids, you start out easy, learning ABCs and 123s. As young adults, however, the lessons get harder and many wonder when, if ever, in their lifetime will they use complex models and theorems like Pythagoras theorem or trigonometry? Why are these necessary anyway? Torturous, complicated or not, math is one of the most important and pervasive fields of study to help you succeed in life ... even in the arts.

"We should constantly remind ourselves that mathematics is utilised in many spheres and aspects of life, it is a universal language and one of the core subjects that cannot be escaped or forgotten," Don Mullings, civil engineer, architect and CEO of the M&M Jamaica Mathematics Competition said. But while it is acknowledged as a precise science, the connection between mathematics and the arts rarely gets noticed. Whether it is music, interior designing, dancing, painting, dressmaking, cooking, architecture or sculpting, mathematics, in all cases, is intricately linked.

Mathematics and the arts have long had a historical relationship dating all the way back to the ancient Egyptians and the building of pyramids, to the ancient Greeks and their paintings. Visual arts such as paintings and sculpting utilise math to help with scaling, drawing lines, creating perspective and allowing drawings and other works to come alive. According to Natasha Glydon in her article, 'Mathematics and the arts', many artists use math for basic things like measuring and drawing lines, plus take advantage of mathematical findings like the golden ratio to make their artwork realistic and beautiful. Popular artists like Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo have used mathematical models and theorems, including the golden ratio, to achieve beauty and balance in the design of their art. "Cinematography, for example, when you walk into Carib or any movie cinema, you will notice the growing popularity of 3-Dimensional (3D) movies. This could not have been possible without using theorems and principles learnt in mathematics," Dr Randolph Watson, coordinator of the M&M Jamaica Mathematics Competition further explained.

Music and dance

The importance of math can also be recognised in music and dancing. To ensure they stay on beat, musicians count to keep time, figure out how to play a figure and just to simply keep track of where they are in a song. Vaslav Nijinsky, who choreographed Igor Stravinsky's ballet, The Rite of Spring, in 1913 devised a plan to help the dancers hear the music over a riot that was taking place by counting aloud so they could keep track of the music.

According to Allison Gayle Ebanks, math teacher and coach of Munro College, the winners of the 2014 M&M Jamaica Mathematics Competition, "even at the [elementary] level, math has been used to help children learn about colours, patterns and writing as they trace patterns based on a number sequence."

Simple activities like connect-the-dots and colouring by numbers aid children in building

their mathematical skills. "Colour and shape are two very noticeable attributes of the world around us, [and] are ways children observe and categorise what they see," former New York State University early-childhood professor, Ellen Booth Church, said.

Math in Art

Though people
continue to believe the common myth that they can get away with not
really knowing math by not pursuing a career in science, technology,
engineering or math, (STEM) careers, we can never truly survive without
knowledge of the subject; even the most artistic careers like those
listed below require mathematics:

  • Photographer
  • Jewellery artist
  • FBI
  • Forensic scientist
  • Special-effects director
  • Fashion
  • Animator
  • Race car
  • Sports announcer
  • Political
  • Landscaper
  • Robotics
  • Make-up

Established in 1993,
M&M Jamaica Ltd is one of the premier engineering and
project-management companies in the island. The organisation, which
prides itself on professional and personalised customer care,
specialises in building and civil engineering, project management and a
range of construction services. As part of its mandate to give back to
the wider society, M&M, through its Chance Fund, offers several
scholarships and awards to primary and secondary-school students,
promotes and finances entrepreneurial programmes, and assists
underprivileged citizens in select communities.

more information about M&M Jamaica Ltd., please call 906-6760-1
or visit