Famous Mathematician Pointillism

Type: Investigation

Theme: Coding

Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Learning Target: Students will create pointillism artwork of a famous mathematician using a coordinate plane.


This project is for individuals.

  1. Select a famous mathematician.
  2. Write a one paragraph summary on why your mathematician is notable.
  3. Find a photograph or famous artwork of that person. 
  4. Open the image in GIMP or another image editor.
    1. Convert to grayscale
    2. Crop to a square.
    3. Reduce the size to16x16 pixel image.
    4. Adjust brightness and contrast or sharpen to enhance detail.
  5. Middle school students: import the image into Desmos.com. Add points to the foreground to recreate the image. Turn off the background image when points are complete.
  6. High school students: export the image from GIMP as a HTML file.
    1. Open HTML file and copy and paste all cells to an Excel spreadsheet (example).
    2. Estimate dot size for each of the 256 cells (see example). Enter values into each cell.
    3. Copy x-values, y-values and size values into Notepad++. Find and replace new lines and tabs as commas. Export as an array/list, to import into Desmos. 
    4. Create dot art, adjust colors and dot sizes in Desmos.com (example).
  7. Obtain Peer Review. Revise.


  1. Final artwork on white background (JPEG or PNG).
  2. One paragraph summary.
  3. Peer Review.


Exit Ticket
CCSS Math Practice
  • I can make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
  • I can look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.
NGSS Crosscutting Concepts
  • Scale, Proportion, and Quantity


René Descartes by Matthew