Crocheting clarifies thinking, says radical and award-winning math teacher

A passion for mathematics has always been part of the life of Kirsi Peltonen, a senior university lecturer at Aalto University. Her summer is busy, as Peltonen is taking part in organizing an international meeting of female mathematicians from 1 to 2 July, and a Bridges conference combining mathematics and art from 31 July to 5 August.
Kirsi Peltonen. Photo: Mikko Raskinen.
Image: Mikko Raskinen.

Aalto University's mathematicians will be involved in the organization of a total of seven conference events during the summer. Some of the conferences have been moved for two years due to the corona virus, while others have been moved from Russia to Finland.

Senior University Lecturer Kirsi Peltonen is participating in the organization of an international meeting of female mathematicians from 1 to 2 July, and a Bridges conference combining mathematics and art from 31 July to 5 August. In addition to these, the Fields Medals, considered equivalents to the Nobels in mathematics, will be awarded at Aalto Töölö's premises on 5 July. The conference summer for mathematics will continue until the end of August, and some of the conferences will be organized in close cooperation with researchers from the University of Helsinki.

Kirsi Peltonen is an award-winning mathematics teacher and teaching reformer. She has spoken of interdisciplinarity as early as the 1990s, when it still was considered too radical.

In her teaching, Peltonen combines handicrafts and mathematics. For Peltonen herself, crocheting, knitting and sewing have always been important, and she says they have been useful in developing mathematical thinking. Three-dimensional patterns like crochet and origami help to perceive math in a different way and make it less intimidating, whether it’s for a primary school or college student.

'Math is everywhere, and a fearless attitude towards it is at the heart of all learning. The visual methods of art bring a good touch to the essential elements of mathematical research', says Peltonen.

Among other things, Peltonen has taught the popular 'Crystal Flowers in Mirror Halls: Mathematics Meets Art and Architecture' course.

'What’s unique, also internationally, is that we have an entire minor that combines math and the arts, not just a single course. Aalto Math & Arts has been featured in the Future Labs exhibition in Shanghai, for example,' says Peltonen.

In 2018, Peltonen received the mathematics prize of the Finnish Mathematical Society for her long-term, innovative, and fruitful work in lowering the boundaries between mathematics and art.

'It’s hard to explain my passion for math, but it’s been a central part of everything I do for as long as I can remember', says Peltonen.

Peltonen has also lectured extensively on combining mathematics and art in Finland and around the world, and has been inspiring more young women in the field of technology by organizing workshops at Shaking up Tech.

Aalto Math & Arts -webpages

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More about Kirsi Peltonen's courses and projects:


World Meeting for Women in Mathematics and Ladyzhenskaya Award announcement July 1-2, 2022

The second edition of (WM)², the World Meeting for Women in Mathematics organized by the International Mathematical Union (IMU) Committee for Women in Mathematics and Olga Alexandrovna Ladyzhenskaya award announcement will take place online and in Helsinki on July 1-2, 2022.

Crystal Flowers exhibition Collineation Grounds. Photo: Mikko Raskinen.

Persistent students created an exhibition combining math and art despite exceptional circumstances

The sheltered courtyard next to the main lobby of the Undergraduate Centre and its dark-red brick, black granite and copper clad façade provides a solid frame for the 2021 exhibition, Collineations grounds.

Crystal Garden. Kuva: Kalle Kataila.

A fairy dance takes over Kuunsilta: student art exhibition opened at the Espoo Cultural Centre

The exhibition was inspired by the students' own experiences and relationship with the environment, and adapted to fit into the Cultural Centre.

Paper packaging prototypes - miura ori technique. Photo: Valeria Azovskay

Multidisciplinary research project based on origami seeks solutions for industrial needs

A joint project covering the fields of mathematics, engineering and arts is about to start at Aalto, where the aim is to study and develop folding technology for the needs of industry. In addition to Aalto, the project includes VTT as coordinator, and several companies from the forest industry to the machine design and cosmetics brands, such as Stora Enso, Metsä Group, Lumene, Mirka, Elomatic, Anpap, Orfer and Soften. Business Finland granted funding for the Co-Innovation project.

Math & Arts

Aalto Math & Arts in Shanghai Future Lab exhibition

The interdisciplinary Math & Arts program, with its underlying course Crystal Flowers in Halls of Mirrors, is introduced to the visitors of the Shanghai Future Lab exhibition.


Also Kaie Kubjas is involved in organising the World Meeting for Women in Mathematics

Kaie Kubjas katsoo lähikuvassa sivulle, hänet on kuvattu lasiseinän läpi, jolloin seinälle kirjoitetut matemaattiset kaavat heijastuvat hänen ylleen.

Everyday choices: Kaie Kubjas, why does mathematics feel safe?

For a professor of mathematics, logical thinking is as important as the provability of results.

Photo: KukkaMaria Rosenlund.

Kaie Kubjas: It is important to encourage girls and young women to study mathematics

Mathematician Kaie Kubjas has done research around the world and has noticed that some places have few female professors, lecturers, or students. Now amid the coronavirus pandemic she is appealing on behalf of women, young researchers, and those with families.


Becoming a mathematician was a natural choice for Kaie Kubjas

New Assistant Professor Kubjas enjoys identifying and solving problems in applications of algebraic geometry.


The opening ceremony of the ICM 2022 congress takes place at Aalto Töölö:

Aalto University Töölö. Photo: Mikko Raskinen, Aalto University.

Major international event in mathematics approaching in Helsinki

The opening ceremony for the ICM 2022 congress will be held in Helsinki on 5th July 2022, and at the ceremony, distinguished mathematicians will be awarded the Fields medals, the Carl Friedrich Gauss prize, the Chern medal, the Leelavati prize, and the Abacus prize for mathematical computing.


Mathematics conferences in the summer of 2022

26.6.-1.7. The 2022 IEEE International Symposium on Information Theory (ISIT)

28.6.-7.7. Probability and Mathematical Physics, including the World Meeting for Women in Mathematics 1.-2.7., the Olga Ladyzhenskaya prize 2.7., and the IMU Award Ceremony 2022

6.-14.7. The International Congress of Mathematicians 2022 (ICM 2022)

3.–6.7. EURO 2022

31.7.–5.8. Bridges conference, including the Bridges 2022 Family Day & Math-Art Expo

18.-21.8. Nordic Congress of Mathematicians

22.-26.8. European Women in Maths conference

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