Mathematical Design, Spring 2023

Course: Math 128: Mathematical Design, Spring 2023.
Meeting Times and Location: Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:45 AM–Noon in Powdermaker Hall 212
Instructor: Christopher Hanusa — Email: — Office: Kiely Tower 606

Course Web Site:
Online Community: Discord.

Textbook: None required. Some related resources are posted on our home page.
Required Expense: The deliverables of the course projects are pen plotter drawings, which require a choice of pen and paper. Depending on the materials you wish to use, you may need to buy some supplies.

Software: We will be using the online graphing calculator Desmos, Inkscape, and Adobe Illustrator, and other software depending on the makerspace machines you want to incorporate into your final project.

Course Prerequisites: None.

Learning Objectives:

In the process of taking this course, students will:

  1. Develop familiarity with cartesian and polar coordinates.
  2. Develop familiarity with a variety of cartesian, trigonometric, polar, and parametric functions.
  3. Understand geometric objects and the behavior of a variety of transformations on them.
  4. Develop an appreciation for mathematical constructs and their aesthetics.
  5. Successfully implement algorithmic techniques including iteration and randomization.
  6. Gain an ability to analyze a problem, and identify and define the mathematical foundations and computing requirements appropriate to its solution.
  7. Use mathematics and programming for experimentation and as creative tools.
  8. Apply the design process and communicate the decisions made therein, including ideation, artistic principles, prototyping, and revisions.
  9. Advance teamwork skills by collaborating with classmates, discussing and solving problems in a group setting, and practicing giving and receiving constructive feedback.
  10. Develop techniques for succeeding in college classes, including instilling a growth mindset.

Furthermore, because this is a course with the Pathways MQR designation (Mathematics and Quantitative Reasoning), students will also:

  1. Interpret and draw appropriate inferences from quantitative representations, such as formulas, graphs, or tables.
  2. Use algebraic, numerical, graphical, or statistical methods to draw accurate conclusions and solve mathematical problems.
  3. Represent quantitative problems expressed in natural language in a suitable mathematical format.
  4. Effectively communicate quantitative analysis or solutions to mathematical problems in written or oral form.
  5. Evaluate solutions to problems for reasonableness using a variety of means, including informed estimation.
  6. Apply mathematical methods to problems in other fields of study. Understand and use the concepts and methods of a discipline or interdisciplinary field.


Succeeding in this class will require your participation. You are expected to come to class when you are healthy and contribute to our group class discussions when we are learning and applying class concepts. You are expected to contribute to Discord by asking questions about content that you don't understand, answering questions your fellow classmates asked, and responding to prompts given by your instructor. Additionally, you are expected to be a resource for your fellow classmates when working on projects, which entails sharing your gained knowledge, giving constructive feedback during peer review, and being generous during presentations.

You are expected to keep up with the pace of the class materials. Follow along on the Course Content page to know what is due when. Many hours of work will go into understanding small details. As in any class, you will need to put in the time to fully understand the concepts. Since this course is a 3 credit course, this means 3 hours of in-class time, and in addition, six-to-nine hours of out-of-class work each week.

Our class's Discord Server is there for you to ask questions — you should ask even the most basic questions because other people will also have those questions and it can lead to an enriching class discussion. Think of it as a virtual study group. Study groups allow you to learn the intricacies of the material; discussion of problems often lead to better understanding and new and more efficient ways to solve the problems. One of the best ways to learn something is to explain it to someone else; misunderstandings that you never knew you had will appear under someone else's questioning! In addition, seeing that others also struggle with the material helps to put your own level of understanding in a better perspective and will hopefully reduce some of your anxiety.

If you miss a class, YOU are responsible for the material you missed—get the notes from your classmates and study group and make sure that you understand the material that you missed.

Mathematical Content on Desmos:

The learning objectives and key mathematical concepts from the class have been integrated into a collection of Desmos activities. You will be graded on the completion and correctness of your responses to the activities, which will be factored into your final course grade, also described below.

These are not the high-stakes "tests" that you might associate with a math class. You can re-attempt Desmos activities once you have developed mastery of the mathematical ideas when you want to improve your scores. This allows you to focus your studying on the concepts that you have not fully understood the first time around. Our goal is that everyone in the class is able to understand all the mathematical ideas by the end of the semester and be able to apply them in the creation of the artwork.

Grading Scheme:

Your grade will be based on class engagement, Desmos Activities that determine your mastery of the mathematical content, and projects created during the semester culminating in a portfolio. Each component of your grade is calculated independently; then all pieces are combined using the following weighted average.

Engagement: 10%
Desmos Activities: 15%
Project 1: 15%
Project 2: 20%
Project 3: 25%
Final Portfolio and Reflection: 15%
It is the policy of the Queens College Mathematics Department that if you stop coming to class and do not withdraw from the class before the withdrawal deadline, you will be assigned a grade of WU, which can be worse than a grade of F in multiple ways. Before it gets to that point, come and discuss your situation with me so that we can come to arrangements and determine the best way forward.

Office Hours:

Office hours is the time that instructors set aside outside of class time for students to come and ask questions. I am happy to help you with your homework, project, and other class-related questions or concerns. The exact hours will be determined by group consensus during the first week of class and announced in class, as well as posted on my schedule. If those times don't work for you, send me an email or DM and we'll set up a time that works for you.


DON'T DO IT! It makes me very mad and very frustrated when students cheat. Cheating is the quickest way to lose the respect that I have for each student at the beginning of the semester.

Working together with classmates on homework and projects is encouraged and is certainly not considered cheating. (DO ask and answer each other's questions on Discord!) Furthermore, it is encouraged to download/explore/use other people's source code to learn about what is and is not possible to do using Desmos.

On the other hand, copying content from online or offline sources and passing it off as your own work IS cheating. The work you turn in for your projects must be your own, substantially different from work found elsewhere, and include citations of any code that you use or that inspired your project.

Since this is time for joint exploration and learning, please do not ask students who previously took this class for help on your projects. The struggle in the class is part of the learning process.

I take cheating very seriously. If you cheat, you will receive a zero for the assignment and I will report you to the academic integrity committee in the Office of Student Affairs to be placed on your permanent file. If you cheat twice, you will receive a zero for the class.

The CUNY Academic Dishonesty policy is provided at this link.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities:

Students with disabilities needing academic accommodation should register with and provide documentation to the Office of Special Services, Frese Hall, room 111. The Office of Special Services will provide a letter for you to bring to your instructor indicating the need for accommodation and the nature of it. This should be done during the first week of class. For more information about services available to Queens College students, contact the Office of Special Services (718-997-5870) or visit their website ( If you need special accommodation for an assessment, contact me at least one week beforehand.

Course Evaluations

During the final four weeks of the semester, you will be asked to complete an evaluation for this course by filling out an online questionnaire. Please remember to participate in these course evaluations. Your comments are highly valued, and these evaluations are an important service to fellow students and to the institution, since your responses will be pooled with those of other students and made available online at Please also note that all responses are completely anonymous; no identifying information is retained once the evaluation has been submitted.

Technical Support

The Queens College Helpdesk (, (718) 997-4444, is located in the I-Building, Room 151 and provides technical support for students who need help with Queens College email, CUNY portal, Blackboard, and CUNYfirst.