Tomorrow it’s Christmas Day! I hope you all have everything you asked for and enjoy the festive break. You might wonder why I’m blogging on tonight of all nights but I did promise someone on Twitter the other day that I would blog about something and here I am. And I’m going to talk about Excel.
Now, before you all groan a little (after all, Excel is not everyone’s favourite thing) I’m going to share a little idea that shows how versatile Excel can be – I’m going to talk about using it as a drawing tool. This takes a little preparation but, once that’s sorted, you’ll really pick it up easily.
First you need to adjust your column width. On 2003 you need to go to the column tab and set the width so that your cells are now squares. On 2007 you’ll need to go to Format on the Home tab of the ribbon and adjust the cell size. Obviously it’s important the the cells are square (play around to get the size you need as it will vary) as you’ll want to use it for two main things: drawing in plan view and creating mosaic patterns. The example above shows how it can be used effectively, in conjunction with Autoshapes, to create a plan of a classroom which could be ‘to scale’ if you wished. This was created in 2007 and the grid effect of the cells makes it the perfect tool for the job! It is, however, as a mosaic creating tool that Excel really comes into its own.
Creating a mosaic, be it an abstract pattern or a simple picture, involves highlighting cells and filling them with colour. It’s up to you if you choose to have grid lines – the example above (created in 2003) does not but you might prefer to have them, particularly if you’re creating a Roman style mosaic or an Aztec pattern. It’s quick and easy to get the hang of and designs could be as simple or as complicated as necessary. This might also be good for creating Rangoli patterns or geometric Mondrian style pop art, although I haven’t tried that yet. You could just as easily use this technique when teaching area, symmetry or rotational symmetry in your maths sessions and I’m sure there are more ideas you could come up with – just give it a try in the new year!