Change the world


Whether you are surrounded by towering skyscrapers on a bustling city street, or contemplating the intricate design of a tiny flower, one thing is clear: mathematically-precise shapes, angles and patterns are everywhere.

As they prepare for Nelson Mandela University’s national Math-Art competition, DF Malherbe Grade 11 pupils Bjorn Futter and Simonè Gous take a look at last year’s entries for inspiration.

To encourage learners to recognize mathematics in the world around them and bring it to life, the Govan Mbeki Mathematics Development Centre (GMMDC) at Nelson Mandela University is running its second annual Math-Art Competition, where entrants must submit artworks inspired by mathematics. It opens on March 2 and closes on May 3.

The competition – which was launched and run in the Eastern Cape last year – has been extended to include all provinces, thanks to strong partnerships with Umalusi (the Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training), the South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF), the Centre for the Advancement of Science and Mathematics Education (CASME), the University of the Free State, the Department of Basic Education (Eastern Cape), Kutlwanong Centre for Maths, Science and Technology, the Independent Schools Association of South Africa (ISASA) and Curro Schools.

“Last year we had such a positive response in the Eastern Cape that we decided to open the competition to all the provinces,” said GMMDC competition coordinator Carine Steyn.

The unique competition is open to learners from Grade 8 to 12, who can choose between two categories – mathematics in manmade designs, or nature – and they can use any visual medium, including photography, drawing, painting, collage or mixed media.

“In the ‘manmade’ category, we are looking for mathematics in designs created by humans. Here they can interpret the theme of art and maths in everyday objects such as buildings, bridges, vehicles, logos, cultural symbols, decorations, and many more,” said Steyn.

“In the ‘nature’ category, artworks must explore the relationship between nature and maths, for example, mathematical patterns in flowers, animals or mountains.”

Each participant will also have to provide a written explanation outlining the link between their artworks and maths, by describing which mathematical concept they used, how their artwork links to the selected category, and which sources they used to design their work.   

Each submitted artwork must be two-dimensional and A4 to A2 in size, with relief work no more than 2cm high.

Through the Math-Art Competition, along with various conferences and school-based activities, GMMDC aims to promote Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEAM) activities to increase the popularity of maths in the classroom.

This Math-Art project also forms part of GMMDC’s unique 21st century techno-blended approach, to promote and support the teaching and learning of mathematics and physical sciences in secondary schools across the country.

Competition prizes including tablets, cell phones and art classes will be awarded to the top-placed candidates.

Top entries will be displayed at public art galleries.

Winners will be announced on May 17, with a prizegiving taking place on May 25.                       

For more information, contact: or watch the promotional video on YouTube: (keywords: Math-Art Competition 2019).

Contact information
Ms Zandile Mbabela
Media Manager
Tel: 0415042777