St Clare's High School students donate $1648 to create Sierpinski triangle for world record bid and charities

Around 93 kilograms of 20-cent coins were used to create the Sierpinski triangle on the basketball court at St Clare's High School.
Around 93 kilograms of 20-cent coins were used to create the Sierpinski triangle on the basketball court at St Clare's High School.

A Sierpinski triangle formed with around 8000 donated 20-cent coins at St Clare’s High School is being submitted for consideration to Guinness World Records.

Students of the Taree school worked for hours on May 8 to create the Sierpinski triangle that had three sides measuring 14 metres. Students calculated the complex design that features triangles within triangles and drew it on the school basketball court and then spent the rest of the day working to fix the coins into position.

Students (from left) Tamara Bennett, Connor Mason, Georgia Capes and Makayla Dewhurst work together to place 20-cent coins on the Sierpinski triangle outline.

Students (from left) Tamara Bennett, Connor Mason, Georgia Capes and Makayla Dewhurst work together to place 20-cent coins on the Sierpinski triangle outline.

School students donated the coins for the world record attempt which was also a student representative council fundraising activity for numerous Catholic Charities including Caritas, Project Compassion, St Vincent de Paul and the school’s Mary MacKillop Fund.

The coins totalled $1648 and were given by students to the project following an appeal by school captains Macabe Grass and Ruby McIntosh on behalf of the student representative council. Fundraising events last term also contributed to the amount used to create the triangle.

... together we can help the poorest of the poor live a life of dignity, free from poverty. Every 20-cent coin makes a difference.

St Clare's High School captains Macabe Grass and Ruby McIntosh

“If we, together donate, even if it is only a few odd dollars, it will go a very long way in helping those who are nowhere near as fortunate as we are … together we can help the poorest of the poor live a life of dignity, free from poverty. Every 20-cent coin makes a difference.”

Student representative council co-ordinator Eloise Thomas said the students loved the experience “and want to build a 3D pyramid with donations next year.”

Students Isabella Hayes and Rickard Weiley work with a ruler to ensure their placement of 20-cent coins creates a perfect line.

Students Isabella Hayes and Rickard Weiley work with a ruler to ensure their placement of 20-cent coins creates a perfect line.

“It must have been good if they are already talking about it next time,” she said.

Mathematics and St Clare’s gifted education mentor, Laura Boere is “the mastermind behind the project” that took mathematics from the classroom to the court, raised money and increased student knowledge of the Sierpinski triangle.

“A Sierpinski triangle is basically a fractal so that every iteration of triangle is exactly half the size of the original triangle,” Eloise explained.

“We are building triangles within triangles. The paradox is that as the triangles get smaller and smaller we are increasing the number of triangles by a power of three so the coins required are actually more than we need for the larger triangles.”

Mrs Boere said the activity exceeded her expectations and cited “the interaction between students in different years and classes as one of the nicest things that came from event.”

She said around 140 students visited the court between 8am and 2pm to help create the Sierpinski triangle.

“They had fun, it was great to be out of the classroom and doing something different for a good cause.”

Mrs Boere said the school would await advice from Guinness World Records to see if the triangle meets its criteria and if not, learn what would need to be done to secure a world record.