Mathematical Design, Spring 2024

Basic Course Information:

Course: Math 128: Mathematical Design, Spring 2024.
Meeting Times and Location: Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:40pm-2:55pm in Powdermaker Hall 212. We will sometimes use the classroom in Rosenthal Library 227.
Mode of Instruction: In-Person.

Instructor: Christopher Hanusa — Email: — Office: Kiely Tower 606
Email Responsiveness: You can expect a response to your email or DM correspondence within 24 hours from Monday to Friday.

Course Web Site:
Online Community: Microsoft Teams.

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: Everyone will be using the online graphing calculator Desmos and Inkscape this semeseter. Depending on the makerspace machines you want to incorporate into your final project, you may be using Adobe Illustrator or Ultimaker Cura, or other software.

Course Prerequisites: None.

Aims for this class:

This class is not your normal math class. This class prioritizes active learning instead of passive learning. You will be using math as a tool to drive your creativity instead of "doing math" by performing computations or solving equations.

You will learn some mathematical concepts, learn some artistic techniques, and develop a maker mentality. You will show and reflect upon your growth in these areas by completing multiple projects and a portfolio.

Math 128 is about changing the way you approach difficult concepts. By the end of this class, you will say to yourself: "I'm not sure how to do this. But if I set my mind to it, learn some things (in class, with my classmates, and on the internet), then I can get better at it and eventually do it."

This class encourages collaboration and teamwork. You will be working together with your classmates to discuss and solve problems, and practice giving and receiving constructive feedback. These and other skills you learn will help you develop confidence to succeed in your college studies.

Learning Objectives:

In the process of taking this course, students will:

  1. Develop familiarity with a variety of cartesian, trigonometric, polar, and parametric parent functions.
  2. Correctly determine the parent functions that correspond to curves in provided scenes.
  3. Use mathematical transformations recreate scenes of mathematical art in Desmos.
  4. Gain an ability to analyze a problem, and identify and define the mathematical foundations and computing requirements appropriate to its solution.
  5. Use mathematics and programming for artistic experimentation and as creative tools.
  6. Effectively communicate the mathematics they used to create their artwork.
  7. Correctly use technical artistic language to describe how they created their artwork.
  8. Successfully implement algorithmic techniques including iteration and randomization.
  9. Intentionally create their artwork by applying the double diamond design process including ideation, artistic principles, prototyping, and revisions.
  10. Effectively communicate the decisions made throughout the intentional creation of their artwork.
  11. Gain general technical skills and confidence with software and machines, especially with Desmos, Inkscape, and the AxiDraw machine.
  12. Engage genuinely with classmates and the material by participating in class, discussing and solving problems in a group setting, and practicing giving and receiving constructive feedback.

By taking Math 128 you will satisfy your Pathways MQR requirement. We do this by making sure you satisfy the six MQR Learning Objectives. These learning objectives have been translated into the language of the course above. You will notice that LO2 above corresponds to MQR learning objectives MQR1 and MQR5; LO3 corresponds to MQR2; LO3 corresponds to MQR3; LO4 corresponds to MQR6; and LO4 corresponds to MQR4.


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 the Discussion on Microsoft Teams 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 Microsoft Team 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.

Please maintain a professional demeanor when posting online. You can be respectful even when you have a difference of opinion. Treat others as you’d want to be treated yourself. Don’t type in all caps, as that is the online equivalent of shouting. If you need to emphasize a word or phrase, use italics.

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: 5%
Desmos Activities: 15%
Project 1: 15%
Project 2: 25%
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.

We are still living through a pandemic and life happens. I have tried to build flexibility into this grading scheme to address this. If you need additional flexibility or consideration, do not hesitate to contact me.

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 Teams!) 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.

Use of Student Work

I am always very proud to show off my students' work, and as such, I regularly create displays of student work on campus and include the work in presentations about the course. In these instances, students are always given credit for their work. Furthermore, all programs in New York State undergo periodic reviews by accreditation agencies. For these purposes, samples of student work are occasionally made available to those professionals conducting the review. Anonymity is assured under these circumstances. If you do not wish to have your work made available for some or all of these purposes, please let the professor know before the start of the second class.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities:

Candidates with disabilities needing academic accommodation should: 1) register with and provide documentation to the Office of Special Services, Kiely Hall Room 108; 2) bring a letter indicating the need for accommodation and what type. This should be done during the first week of class. For more information about services available to Queens College candidates, visit Office of Special Services for Students with Disabilities in Kiely Hall Room 108 or contact the Director, Dr. Miriam Detres-Hickey at 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

Students who need help with their Queens College accounts (email, CUNY portal, Blackboard, and CUNYfirst) can call the ITS help desk at 718-997-4444 Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm or email For more information, visit If you are having technology issues (no devices, no internet, etc.), please have them contact