Sierpinski “forest” lights up front yard on Lucky Avenue in Menlo Park

by Linda Hubbard Gulker on December 28, 2016

A gaggle of elves — otherwise known as students in Paula Hamilton’s Holiday Design Lab — assembled four Sierpinski Christmas trees that are now lighting up 1031 Lucky Avenue in Menlo Park in the best possible manner.

“This is the second year I’ve focused on fractal math during the holiday season,” said Paula, who we profiled on InMenlo in 2014. “It’s a great way to engage the students in interesting math.”

The design students made Stage 0, Stage 1 and Stage 2 Sierpinski Tetrahedron tress that became the basis of the three Stage 3 trees and the giant Stage 4 trees that adorn Paula’s front yard.

According to Wikipedia, “the Sierpinski triangle, also called the Sierpinski gasket or the Sierpinski Sieve, is a fractal and attractive fixed set with the overall shape of an equilateral triangle, subdivided recursively into smaller equilateral triangles.” The math inquisitive can get the full scoop here.

Paula explained that the inverted triangles are all blank with the largest inverted triangle measuring six feet.

“Our neighbors joined the students as part of a community design day,” she said. “We put the lights on after the build. If we had more time, I would have built on some other fractal math shapes.”

For that we await next year, but this year’s trees are enjoyable now.

Photo by Robb Most

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