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12.7: Tessellations

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12
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What if you were given a hexagon and asked to tile it over a plane such that it would fill the plane with no overlaps and no gaps? Could you do this? After completing this Concept, you'll be able to determine if a figure tessellates.

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CK-12 Foundation: Chapter12TessallationsA

Teachertubemath: Create a Tessellation

Guidance

You have probably seen tessellations before, even though you did not call them that. Examples of tessellations are: a tile floor, a brick or block wall, a checker or chess board, and a fabric pattern. A tessellation is a tiling over a plane with one or more figures such that the figures fill the plane with no overlaps and no gaps. Here are a few examples.

Notice the hexagon (cubes, first tessellation) and the quadrilaterals fit together perfectly. If we keep adding more, they will entirely cover the plane with no gaps or overlaps. The tessellation pattern could be colored creatively to make interesting and/or attractive patterns. To tessellate a shape it must be able to exactly surround a point, or the sum of the angles around each point in a tessellation must be 360^\circ . Therefore, every quadrilateral and hexagon will tessellate. For a shape to be tessellated, the angles around every point must add up to 360^\circ . A regular pentagon does not tessellate by itself. But, if we add in another shape, a rhombus, for example, then the two shapes together will tessellate.

Tessellations can also be much more complicated. Here are a couple of examples.

Example A

Tessellate the quadrilateral below.

To tessellate any image you will need to reflect and rotate the image so that the sides all fit together. First, start by matching up each side with itself around the quadrilateral.

This is the final tessellation. You can continue to tessellate this shape forever.

Now, continue to fill in around the figures with either the original or the rotation.

Example B

Does a regular pentagon tessellate?

First, recall that there are (5 - 2)180^\circ = 540^\circ in a pentagon and each angle is 540^\circ \div 5 = 108^\circ . From this, we know that a regular pentagon will not tessellate by itself because 108^\circ \times 3 = 324^\circ and 108^\circ \times 4 = 432^\circ .

Example C

How many squares will fit around one point?

First, recall how many degrees are in a circle, and then figure out how many degrees are in each angle of a square. There are 360^\circ in a circle and 90^\circ in each interior angle of a square, so \frac{360}{90}=4 squares will fit around one point.

Watch this video for help with the Examples above.

CK-12 Foundation: Chapter12TessallationsB

Concept Problem Revisited

You could tessellate a regular hexagon over a plane with no overlaps or gaps because each of its interior angles is 120^\circ . Three hexagons whose angles sum to 360^\circ surround each point in the tessellation.

Vocabulary

A tessellation is a tiling over a plane with one or more figures such that the figures fill the plane with no overlaps and no gaps.

Guided Practice

1. How many regular hexagons will fit around one point?

2. Does a regular octagon tessellate?

3. Tessellations can also be much more complicated. Check out http://www.mathsisfun.com/geometry/tessellation.html to see other tessellations and play with the Tessellation Artist, which has a link at the bottom of the page.

Answers:

1. First, recall how many degrees are in a circle, and then figure out how many degrees are in each angle of a regular hexagon. There are 360^\circ in a circle and 120^\circ in each interior angle of a hexagon, so \frac{360}{120}=3 hexagons will fit around one point.

2. First, recall that there are 1080^\circ in a pentagon. Each angle in a regular pentagon is 1080^\circ \div 8 = 135^\circ . From this, we know that a regular octagon will not tessellate by itself because 135^\circ does not go evenly into 360^\circ .

Practice

Will the given shapes tessellate? If so, how many do you need to fit around a single point?

  1. A regular heptagon
  2. A rectangle
  3. A rhombus
  4. A parallelogram
  5. A trapezoid
  6. A kite
  7. A regular nonagon
  8. A regular decagon
  9. A completely irregular quadrilateral
  10. In general, which regular polygons will tessellate?
  11. Use equilateral triangles and regular hexagons to draw a tessellation.
  12. The blue shapes are regular octagons. Determine what type of polygon the white shapes are. Be as specific as you can.
  13. Draw a tessellation using regular hexagons.
  14. Draw a tessellation using octagons and squares.
  15. Make a tessellation of an irregular quadrilateral using the directions from Example A.

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Difficulty Level:

At Grade

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Date Created:

Jul 17, 2012

Last Modified:

Nov 14, 2014
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