The Art of Fresh: Popular Patterns in Urban Fashion

Pop culture encompasses a variety of trends that reflect the style of the youth. Fashion, for example, plays a pivotal role in how young people express their individuality, using clothing as a medium. The aesthetic significance of fashion becomes symbolic, as it not only refers to what’s “hot”, “fresh”, “hip” (or any other colloquialism for “acceptable”), but also represents a lifestyle and attitude. This is especially true for urban fashion, which is heavily influenced by urban culture from the inner cities. One of its unique characteristics is that it is constantly changing. As Jasica Thomas puts it, “Keeping up with the trends in fashion are an ongoing process, and those who are keen on being in the most fashionable list definitely have to be on the alert all the time.” (See “Urban Fashion Trends”)

Currently, one of the most popular trends in urban fashion is the use of patterns, or repeating set of objects.



Some of these patterns may include images in a random order, such as these socks with the late Hip-Hop artist and Wu Tang Member,  Ol’ Dirty Bastard. However, others are more organized and are created by tessellations. Tessellations takes place when images such as popular icons, characters, shapes, animals, and flowers are placed in a symmetrical manner without overlapping or leaving gaps.


Line of Symmetry


In order to fully comprehend how tessellations are created, there must be a fundamental understanding of symmetry. By definition, symmetry is “the quality of something that has two sides or halves that are the same or very close in size, shape, and position.” In other words, if an image was split in the middle, the left and right, top and bottom, or diagonals of that image would be identical. Using an imaginary line referred to as the line of symmetry usually indicates if an image is symmetrical. Each image below is an example of a symmetrical figure.



Four types of symmetry that can create tessellations include: translation, reflection, rotation, and glide reflection. Below are a few examples of each tessellation.



A translation is a shape that “slides” across a surface and does not turn or flip. The picture below shows a series of black and white triangles that are translated.





Reflection occurs when a shape is “flipped”, usually vertically or horizontally, but can also be done at an angle.





When a pattern includes shapes, animals, or plants that appear to spin or “rotate” around a specific point, a rotation occurs. The image below is a prime example of rotation.



Glide Reflection


In glide reflections, both reflection and translation are used to create a pattern.



Notice how the image above has white and black birds that are translated from left to right. Because the birds are going in opposite directions, they also create a reflection of each other.

Now that we have a good idea of what patterns, symmetry, and tessellations are, let’s look at a few examples of how they are incorporated within the latest fashion. As you are viewing the images, think of the types of symmetry that the images create.


As you can see, patterns are prominent in urban fashion. They can be found on shirts, bucket hats, joggers, leggings, shoes, book bags, and anything else. If you still aren’t convinced, I suggest you look into your closet or in the nearest mall. You are sure to find patterns everywhere!



The Art of Fresh: Fashion and Philanthropy

“Artists are the gatekeepers of truth. We are civilization’s radical voice.” ~ Paul Robeson

According to the late Paul Robeson, artists have the opportunity to use their platforms to make significant changes in society. However, some would argue that artists have no obligation to address certain issues. Although they may have a point, when I think of artists who have become icons in popular culture, I think of those who have used their voices to raise awareness, especially as it pertains to social and political issues. Artists, such as Bob Marley, Nina Simone, John Lennon, Fela Kuti, Michael Jackson, Tupac Shakur, have all taken a stand against the injustices of the world. In retrospect, they have become bigger than their artistry. They have been philanthropists, humanists, revolutionaries, and activists. They have been individuals who have lived their lives beyond just fortune and fame.

Issues, such as poverty, gun violence, police brutality, gangs, and racism continue to persist. But there is a new wave of artists who are carrying the torch. These artists are not only using their music, but also fashion to make social and political statements. For instance, in the 2004 presidential election, P. Diddy (founder of Bad Boy Records), Sean John, and Citizen Change launched a campaign to encourage more young people between the ages of 18 and 30 to vote. This helped change the face of the U.S. political landscape by encouraging the youth to “Vote or Die”, using celebrities as his support system.

The campaign was meant to show that the right to vote is a matter of life or death. This notion may not be too far-fetched, as people have literally fought and died for this freedom. I believe this resonated with young people, not only because of the celebrities involved, but also because of its simple, yet powerful position in politics. This campaign was not only successful in 2004, but also in 2008, when President Barack Obama was elected.

Jay-Z, Hip-Hop artist and co-founder of Rocawear, also attempted to use fashion as a statement. Although it was short-lived, he released a new line of t-shirts, which were meant to support the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011. This movement served as a protest against social and economic disparities between corporations and the American people. The shirt “tweaks the phrase ‘Occupy Wall Street’ by crossing out the ‘W’ and adding an ‘S’ to make it read ‘Occupy All Streets’.”

Unfortunately, this effort led to a little bit of controversy, primarily because he never intended on sharing his profits to the actual protestors. The Business Insider states, “A Rocawear spokesperson sent us a statement confirming there’s no plan to distribute any of the profits, which will surely pour in from shirt sales, to Occupy Wall Street.” According the spokesperson, “The ‘Occupy All Streets’ T shirt was created in support of the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement. Rocawear strongly encourages all forms of constructive expression, whether it be artistic, political or social. ‘Occupy All Streets’ is our way of reminding people that there is change to be made everywhere, not just on Wall Street. At this time we have not made an official commitment to monetarily support the movement.”

This leads to questionable motives of certain artists. There seems to be a thin line between legitimacy and sincerity from the public’s point of view, especially in this day and age where there are many cultural capitalists. In my opinion, there needs to be a clear alignment between the art and actions of the individuals, which leads me to Kendrick Lamar’s recently released, “Ventilators 2” by Reebok.

Throughout his career, Lamar has repeatedly shed light on his upbringing in Compton, California, where gang culture seems to dominate the living conditions of his immediate environment. Having been heavily influenced by this reality, he has always mentioned it in both his music and interviews. With songs, such as: “Little Johnny”, “M.A.A.D. City (featuring MC Eight), and “I”, he continues to provide a voice for his constituents by emphasizing social, political, and economic discrepancies that are woven into the American fabric. His response to these discrepancies and pervasiveness of gang culture are the Ventilators 2. Complex mentions, “These Ventilators, which were previewed by, are set against an off-white suede base with alternating blue and red accents on each shoe. The gang references are apparent, and each tongue tag is inscribed with ‘Neutral,’ echoing a sentiment Kendrick has been pushing strongly during his career.”

Other artists, such as Usher and John Legend (pictured below), aren’t necessarily known for making social and political commentary in their music, but they have also been recently seen using fashion to make a statement.

As we continue to face adversities in our lives, it is important to have the opportunity to express ourselves constructively. It may not necessarily be directly based on certain social, economic, or political issues; however, we are undeniably affected by these issues in one way or another. In that regard, we should continue to find creative ways to address these issues for the betterment of mankind.


3D Printing! When Do We Start Printing Body Parts?

Some people think 3D printing is taking away jobs by automating the manufacturing industry. Others think it’s a revolution in engineering. In this lesson, we’ll look at some of the reasons for the hype surrounding 3D printing, focusing on health and wellness.

Surprisingly, 3D printers have been in development since the 1980s. Charles Hull was the first person to patent the technology in 1986. Throughout the late 80s and the 90s, many companies focused on building 3D printers to be used for industrial design, to create prototypes. Because these printers were very expensive, only large corporations could afford to use them. In the mid-2000s there was a divide in the 3D printer industry. Though there were still innovations being made for the high-priced printers, there was a movement towards making 3D printers more affordable for the home or office. In 2009, the first commercial 3D printers were created by RepRap and MakerBot. By 2012, there were many 3D printer prototypes being funded on Kickstarter. Today a 3D printer can be purchased for around $1,000, but you don’t even need to own a printer to create a 3D object. You can send a file to a company like Shapeways or 3DHub to have it printed and shipped to you at a relatively low cost.

3D printing is an industry that’s developing extremely rapidly. The way 3D printers work is similar to a standard inkjet printer, but instead of ink, they use a different material and apply it in layers. Usually a photopolymer resin is used, which can be melted and resolidified with ultraviolet light. The photopolymer is spread out and is built into a 3D object by printing many layers on top of each other. This process is called additive manufacturing, because it involves building layers of material (as opposed to subtractive manufacturing, which is like sculpting – cutting away pieces of material). It’s a simple way to make a solid plastic object without much heat in a precise manner.

This lesson will look at some of the things that are currently being made with 3D printers. Students can make their own informed decision on 3D printing’s positive and negative impacts. They can also design their own 3D printed innovations and envision what the future holds for 3D printing.


Teen Usage: Instagram vs. Facebook

Is Instagram the most popular social media app among 12-17 year-old teens? Or is Facebook still on top? Statistics vary on how many teens use each platform. CBS News stated 76% of teens use the app compared to 45% on Facebook. A Pew Research report said only 52% of teens use Instagram versus the 71% who use Facebook.

The Pew Research shows wealthier teens, or those whose parents make over $75,000, use Instagram 23% more than those teens under $30,000 at 7%. Facebook is the preferred social media among the lower income teens at 49% versus 37% for upper income teens. Girls are on Instagram more than boys, 61% versus 44%.

Instagram is more popular than Facebook among wealthy teens

Instagram began as strictly a photo sharing app, but its popularity with teens has made the app more of a social network. Teens use hashtags along with their photos and videos to gain more followers. Because of Instagram, data usage has tripled among teens. As the app has become more popular, Instagram has begun to spread to younger children. One of Instagram’s rules is that a person must be thirteen to have a profile. However, children younger than thirteen are still creating profiles, showing that younger children are becoming drawn into the social media platform.

Hashtags help with SEO, or search engine optimization. Because many teens think it’s best to have more followers than those they are following, they seek to find new followers by showing off their photos to more people. The use of hashtags makes photos and videos available for everyone to see. The more hashtags posted alongside the photos and videos, the more likely it is that new people will see those photos. Having more followers seems to appeal to teens because it makes them look more popular among their peers.
So is Instagram or Facebook more popular among the 12-17-year old teens? Do teens really use hashtags to gain followers?  How do teens know which is the most popular social media among their age group? They can conduct their own survey and draw their own conclusions.

The Art of Storytelling

The objective of this lesson plan is to engage students in the art of storytelling and improve their public speaking skills.

ai4 thumbnail

The Future is Here Part 3 of 3: Artificial Intelligence – When Will Siri Rise Up Against Us?

In 1950, Alan Turing, came up with a theory about Artificial Intelligence (A.I.). He was one of the most important early computer scientists and a legendary codebreaker during World War II (as shown in the film The Imitation Game). The Turing Test essentially states that if a person has two conversations, one with a computer and one with a human and can not distinguish which conversation is with the computer, then it qualifies as Artificial Intelligence.

Since the release of Turing’s paper introducing the Turing Test, philosophers have been debating if imitating human behavior counts as “intelligence,” or if it is possible to create a computer that can “think” on its own. It’s a simple topic that has raised moral issues, questions about the “human soul” and the dangers of the digital age since Turing’s paper was published in 1950.

Stephen Hawking has stated, “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.” Elon Musk, the developer of Space X, has stated that A.I. is “our biggest existential threat,” and in January of 2015 he donated $10 million to DeepMind, an Artificial Intelligence developing agency “to keep an eye on what’s going on.” Bill Gates the co-founder of Microsoft has also stated he is “in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence.”

With all of these fears about Artificial Intelligence from leading scientists, technologists, and philosophers, should there be a larger concern for the rapid development of computer intelligence? How much can you really trust the latest version of Siri or Google Now? Find out more about Artificial Intelligence in this lesson and reevaluate where you stand on this issue.

1-sneakerheads-opener-4.w750.h560.2x copy thumbnail

Sneaker-nomics: Supply-and-Demand Economics in the Basketball Footwear Industry


Steph Curry: Great Season, Corny Shoes

Two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry had a terrific season, but some would argue that his signature sneaker did not. In a recent article on the site Slate entitled “Why Does the World’s Best Basketball Player Wear Such Corny Sneakers?”, John Swansburg argues that Curry’s Under Armour sneaker, the Curry Two, has “almost no cultural cachet.” Swansburg says that Curry’s sneaker appeals to basketball players but has “not gained traction on the street, in the mall, or on the feet of cultural influencers.” The author specifically mentions that Drake partners with Nike and Kanye West designs for Adidas, but no similar celebrity would be seen wearing the Curry Two.



I Wanna Be, I Wanna Be Like Mike!

Ever since the start of Nike’s Air Jordan brand — and the famous “Jumpman” logo that has become synonymous with it — the world’s biggest sneaker companies and best basketball players have marketed their footwear to both athletes and sneaker-heads. According to Forbes, even though Michael Jordan has been retired since 2003, his sneaker brand still earns him over $100 million every year.


What IS Steph Up To?

More recent players have taken Jordan’s lead. On a recent edition of the Slate sports podcast Hang Up and Listen (sneaker conversation from 18:00-35:20 mark), host Josh Levin said, “Throughout the modern history of the NBA, having a signature shoe has been the pathway to broader cultural relevance, starting with Jordan up through LeBron and now with Steph. And the question is, ‘Is Steph Curry carving out a different pathway here…or does he want to have a similar path…in creating this shoe that people want to wear off the court?’”



Will Curry 2.5 Save The Day?

Curry and Under Armour have not yet tapped into the full potential of the sneaker market. The good news is that the Curry 2.5 will reportedly debut in May. Will it be less corny than the Curry Two? Sneaker-heads can’t wait to find out.

ps4_virtual_reality-1366x768 thumbnail

The Future is Here Pt. 1 of 3: Virtual Reality, The Beginning or the End of Society as We Know It?



“Whoa!” That was the famous word Keanu Reeves said when he discovered the alternate reality of The Matrix back in 1999. Of course, as we learned in the movie, Keanu was stuck in a false reality. His senses were tricked into believing he was on Earth, when in reality an alien planet was living off his body and sending false signals to his brain through some creepy cord connected to his head. It was an apocalyptic, futuristic take on virtual reality, a concept that has been featured in many science fiction films.

The origins of virtual reality date back to 1968 when Ivan Sutherland created a wearable headset  to simulate being in a wireframe polygon room at the University of Utah. Starting in 1966, Thomas Furness spent over two decades at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base developing the virtual reality environments for pilots to train in. In the 1990s, movies like Lawnmower Man and Disclosure, made Virtual Reality look like it was about to enter the mainstream. By the mid-1990s gaming companies Sega, Atari and Nintendo had all invested heavily in Virtual Reality focused games, but the Virtual Reality hype quickly fizzled when all of their prototypes failed. Nintendo managed to get two of its products in the marketplace, the Power Glove and Virtual Boy, but they had awful sales and caused a virtual reality bust.


The possibilities of virtual reality have only reemerged recently with Oculus Rift, a VR headset company that Facebook bought for $2 billion in 2014. LucasFilms is currently marketing Star Wars: The Force Awakens with a Google Cardboard virtual reality experience called Jakku Spy and even the New York Times is embracing it. But what is it? How does it ‘trick’ our brains? How can it be used for social good? In this lesson make your own VR headset and get in on the ground floor in figuring out how VR can change the world.

Learning Similes and Metaphors with Katy Perry’s Firework

In this lesson, students will learn what a similes and metaphors, and how they are used as similar forms of expression in Katy Perry’s “Firework”. This song provides a useful example of similes and metaphors; it shows how they are alike as well as how they differ, both in the song lyrics and the music video.

Firework uses similes and metaphors to address important issues for young people, such as difference, bullying, body image, and unstable family environments.