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Saving the Coral Reef One Stitch at a Time

Margaret Wertheim talks about how math and climate change inspired her to start the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef project.


Conversation Club

  1. In this video, Margaret Wertheim explains that the inspiration to crochet coral reef structures came from mathematics, specifically the study of geometry. Can you think of other biological structures, creatures, or phenomena that are visual examples of math in action? (Hint: What happens when you pour cream into coffee?)
  2. If the inspiration to crochet coral reefs came from the study of geometry, the project, once begun, also became a way to talk about climate change and its effect on coral reefs. What other examples can you think of where art is used as a way to introduce or discuss difficult scientific and/or political topics? How might this be an effective way to discuss a challenging topic?
  3. Did you know that climate change was affecting coral reefs all over the world? This video describes coral bleaching, which is caused by stressors, including pollutants or rising seawater temperatures. Are there other examples of environmental changes caused by climate that you can share? Are there examples that you’ve noticed yourself?
  4. Were you familiar with crochet as a craft? Crochet is described in this video as both a technical skill and an artistic one. Using this description, what are some other examples of crafts? Are there any crafts that are specific to your own community, country or culture?
  5. Wertheim describes how the women contributing their crochet to this collective project were “given a voice.” What do you think that means? Why do you think having a voice is important? Is there a group project or activity that you participated in that allowed you to express yourself in a way that was meaningful to you?
  6. This crochet project is described as “collective art” that has a social message and is meant to educate viewers. Can you think of examples where you have been educated in ways you didn’t expect by an art project or a community project?
  7. In this video, we see how plastic trash is used to create something artistic. Can you think of other examples where plastic has been reused in surprising, even creative ways? Have you ever used recycled materials for a project – artistic or otherwise?
  8. If you were to champion a specific cause, or educate people about a specific topic, what would you choose? Why? How could working with others in your community benefit your cause?

Video Series

This video exists as part of a series gathered around the theme of Civil Society. Other videos in this series are listed below.

Music’s Melting Pot
Music’s Melting Pot
Big Data to Big History
Big Data to Big History
The Legal Crusader
The Legal Crusader
What Is Next in Space Exploration?
What Is Next in Space Exploration?
Teaching Coding, Empowering Girls
Teaching Coding, Empowering Girls
Space Shuttle Discovery's Biggest Accomplishments
Space Shuttle Discovery's Biggest Accomplishments
How to Grow a Human Arm in a Lab
How to Grow a Human Arm in a Lab
Saving the Coral Reef One Stitch at a Time
Saving the Coral Reef One Stitch at a Time
Saving the Coral Reef One Stitch at a Time
Saving the Coral Reef One Stitch at a Time