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Origami Engineering

Seminar Leader:
Cynthia Sung


Origami is an ancient art that allows us to fold flat sheets of paper into complex, three-dimensional structures. In the last few decades, we have developed the mathematics to design and analyze new fold patterns, transforming origami from a form of recreation into a powerful engineering tool. This seminar discussed the principles behind origami-inspired design, focusing on geometry and spatial reasoning. It addressed both mathematical theory and applications, covering questions such as: How can we predict from the crease lines and angles on a fold pattern what the resulting 3-D shape will be? How do we do the reverse process of flattening a 3-D shape into a fold pattern? How do we think about action origami (fold patterns that can still move after folding)? And how can these structures and modeling techniques be used in areas such as robotics, manufacturing, space exploration, and medicine? Along the way, we developed an understanding of the engineering method (similar to the scientific method), and of the history of origami as an art form. Seminar participants taught in a broad range of fields, including the arts, history and social studies as well as science and mathematics.

Unit TitleAuthor


Natural Resources are Natural Wonders

Valerie A. Adams
Keywords: Art, asian art and culture, geometry, literacy, Math, origami

Engineering Confidence, Focus, and Geometry Through Paper Folding

Katherine Breitbart
Keywords: Art, asian art and culture, attention, engineering, first grade, focus, geometry, learning strategies, Math, origami, paper folding, Science, skills development, social-emotional learning, spatial reasoning, STEAM, STEM

Phila-Gami: Philadelphia Themed Folding in the Math Classroom

Catherine Michini
Keywords: Alexander Calder, Art, fold-and-cut, geometry, Math, Mobile, origami, Philadelphia, Pi Day, pop-up card, STEAM

Origami for Precision and Cooperation

Rachel Odoroff
Keywords: Art, Math, origami, Standards for Mathematical Practice

German Style Paper Folding and the Moravian Tradition

Patricia Rich
Keywords: archives, Bethlehem, colonial Pennsylvania, cross-curricular, diaspora, Fröbel, Froebel, geometry, German Bells, German script, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, love feast, modular stars, Moravian, Moravian Archives, Moravian College, Moravian Star, polyhedral Stars, pop-up, project-based, Sütterlin

Applied Origami in Physical Science, Biology and Chemistry

Bobby E. Stewart
Keywords: Art, Math, origami, Science activity

Origami Engineering and Product Design

Elizabeth Szablya
Keywords: Art, asian art and culture, construct, design, design thinking, engineering, fold, hands-on, High School, kirigami, modular origami, origami, PHiZZ, Physical Science, presentation, project based instruction, project-based, prototype, Science, Science activity, Scientific Method, snapology, spatial reasoning, STEAM, STEM, student lead, tessilation, Yoshizawa, Yoshizawa randlett

Using Origami to Practice Mindfulness and Create a Growth Mindset

Cara Wallin
Keywords: geometry, Growth Mindset, Math, Mindfulness, origami, spatial reasoning

Engaging Elementary Students in Geometry through Origami

Terry Anne Wildman
Keywords: geometry, Math, origami

Paper-fold Physics: Newton’s Three Laws of Motion

Lisa (Yuk Kuen) Yau
Keywords: Art, geometry, Math, origami, Science activity, STEAM, STEM