Students Learn Math, Shapes, and Culture

Is math an important aspect of culture? If you were to ask 73 year old artist Esther Mahlangu, she would give you a resounding “Yes!”

Mahlangu, an artist from the Ndebele tribe of South Africa, has been teaching students at that country’s largest science museum, the Sci-Bono, how ancient geometric artwork is tied to solving complex mathematical problems. The children of Johannesburg still face major life hurdles; even though they now live in a world free of apartheid, South Africa has a staggering 25% unemployment rate and educational opportunities are still limited for poor blacks.

Esther Mahlangu is a world recognized artist, but her primary concern is with passing on local traditions to disadvantaged youth. Her efforts, and the museum’s outreach, are aiming to improve lives through meaningful education.