Geometry Party: Tessellation Trivia

When you’re trying to learn new facts, repetitive review is a good way to get them to stick in your brain! Perhaps you could turn each fact into a geometric shape and make a fun repeating study guide!

In geometry, there is a special name for these kinds of patterns – tessellations! These are patterns of geometric shapes that repeat with no gaps or overlap.

Tessellation patterns can be divided into 3 categories – regular, semi-regular, and irregular. Let’s dive in and learn a little more!

Regular Tessellations

A regular tessellation is a shape that can be made by repeating a regular polygon. A very limited number of shapes can form regular tessellations – in fact there are only 3!

Triangles, squares, and hexagons are the only shapes that can form tessellations on their own without assistance from other geometric gap-fillers. This is because these shapes require interior angles that are divisors of 360° – only triangles, squares, and hexagons meet this criteria.

Semi-Regular Tessellations

Semi-regular tessellations, like regular tessellations, only use regular polygons to make their patterns. However, these patterns can use two or more shapes to fill out their pattern.

These tiling patterns have a little more flexibility than their regular cousins, but there are still only 8 patterns you can make into semi-regular tessellations!

Irregular Tessellations

If you like your patterns a little more messy and wild, then irregular tessellations may be for you! You can form these tessellations out of any shape or shapes you can think of – so long you are able to create an interlocking pattern.

Artists have been using tessellating patterns for many years!

  • In ancient Rome, artists used small square “tessella” tiles to create large mosaic images, much in the way modern pixels are used to create images on a screen today.
  • The Alhambra, a tiled palace constructed by the Moors in the 14th century features multiple beautiful tessellating mosaic patterns using a variety of geometric shapes.
  • M.C. Escher, a Dutch graphic artist, was fascinated by tessellations. He used them very creatively in his art, turning images of animals and nature into tessellating shapes.

How to make a tessellation

Maybe you have some time and want to make your own tessellations. There are 3 ways to construct your tessellating pattern, let’s go over them here!

  • Translation – the shapes in the pattern repeat by moving or sliding
  • Rotation – the shapes in the pattern repeat in a circular (rotating) pattern
  • Reflection – the shapes in the pattern flip as the pattern repeats

Enjoy your new knowledge of tessellations, and put it to good work during this month’s trivia! We’ll be bringing you questions on geometry, science, and general knowledge, so dust those old text books off and get ready!

Trivia How-To: The bot will start firing off questions at 11:00 AM EST on 8/22 and continue until 11:00 AM EST on 8/24, at which point things will finish with a power hour till noon. Submit your answers by typing them into the chat box. Optional: you may submit answers privately by messaging @inquizitor if you do not want other players to see your responses. To do this, type /pm inquizitor before your message.

Swag (made possible by generous donations from our past player @susi): The top scoring player will win their choice of face mask, notebook or mug, a magnet! Second and third place will each also win a magnet.

Bonus info is available in your in-game notifications. Good luck!

Artwork by Daniela Gamba