PLIX Beautiful Symmetry beta-testing: reflections from the process

In the development of several PLIX activities, we were afforded the opportunity to test out the materials and prompts that we had developed by running in-person playtests with local library partners or with small groups of librarians. These playtests were critical in iterating on our activites, helping to refine learning materials and content that we shared with the broader PLIX community.

Since we aren’t able to deliver IRL workshops right now to experiment with activity components, we’ll be teaming up with librarians from the PLIX community to test out the brand new Beautiful Symmetry activity!

On this thread, you’ll be hearing from the PLIX beta-testing team, who will be sharing reflections about the playtesting process, ideas for refining or creating new learning materials for BeauSym, and tinkering with activity prompts and exploring new ones through remixes!

Want to join in on the fun?! Feel free to join the beta-testing team! We’ll be having several meetings between now and the end of July, including “open hours” to engage in shared making time online with fellow testers. You can find dates and times for these sessions on the onboarding document, which also includes some tips about how and where to get started, and what to share on this thread.


I received my beta-testing kit for the Beautiful Symmetry project and promptly unboxed it. Wow! Thank you Avery and The PLIX team! I’m really looking forward to digging in and experimenting (and snacking!). Since our initial meeting last week I’ve been thinking a lot about kaleidoscopes and how they can add a symmetry and fascinating beauty to the every day objects in our world.
And here is my unboxing…


Got my kit this past weekend and I have to say it’s awesome and not the first potato I have gotten in the mail. So many ideas to try out… let the making begin!


I received my box today! What a lot of fun stuff to play with. The foam shapes reminded me of a printing program we held for preschoolers a few years ago. We used sticky backed foam shapes and attached them to water bottle lids. The kids used them as stamps. They would screw the bottle cap onto a bottle they were using and that would become their stamper. I am very excited to work with these materials! Thank you, PLIX


Hi Francesca, I also love Kaleidoscopes! I think that several years ago we had a kaleidoscope making program. I am searching through our files to see if I can find the information about it. If I do, I will share it.


I’m Blayne from Lexington, KY and my Monday was made brighter by my package from PLIX. I eagerly opened it up where I encountered CHOCOLATE and a loose opened X-Acto!

I am looking forward to trying to use up some t-shirts and tie-dying supplies I found while packing up our old programming workroom to see how hard it is to make a symmetrical design!

I roamed around the library today and found some examples of symmetry in my library. We have a dramatic mosaic with a Foucault Pendulum which has lots of symmetry in its design and its motion!


I found the 2 websites that we used when planning our Kaleidoscopes for our Lights and Mirrors program.

  1. Print - Maker Camp
  2. Science for Kids: How to Make a Kaleidoscope - Buggy and Buddy

Heyo … my name is Ryan/Ry and I live in Phoenix, AZ (Akimel O’odham and Pee-Posh lands)! I’m jazzed to be participating in the BeauSym beta-testing – thx again for the invite, PLIX :partying_face:

Here’s a pic of my unboxed kit … what a joy!

After first reading about the BeauSym project a few weeks ago, I’ve been keeping my eye out for symmetry around me (shout out to @averymsnormandin for the pics from your walks around the neighborhood). The other day I was helping my dad plant some baby agaves, and I noticed that as we removed the lil guys from the stalk, a beautiful “barber’s pole” pattern emerged which had been hidden under all the leaves …

In the non-natural world, I’ve been thinking about the digital possibilities of copy and paste to help bring symmetrically-inspired art to life. At the library, we’re still doing all of our programs virtually, and I’m hoping to find ways to incorporate the spirit of BeauSym into some of our existing online activities. For instance, we have a weekly 3D-modeling class using Tinkercad. To get started with the symmexploration, I’ve been making little patterns and exploring how to duplicate them around various axes using the built in “duplicate and repeat” tool… While not all of these designs will be easily printable, they are fun to explore within Tinkercad, and I think this type of play has potential to be easily integrated into our existing programs. Here are a few screenshots from my early experiments:

In a few months, I’m also going to be doing some workshops using Canva for our digital art program … so I’ve been experimenting with how repeated copy and paste using transparent shapes can yield fun geometric patterns! Here are a few iterations using some simple shapes:

Ok … that’s all for now, but I can’t wait to hear/see what you all are scheming!



I received my package today!! :metal:
Beautiful :handshake: Symmetry
Thank you, Avery!!

Hi everyone!
My name is Dave Fink and I am currently a youth services librarian at Michigan City Public Library which is located in NW Indiana, about an hour drive east of Chicago, IL. I’m excited to try out all sorts of stuff with BeauSym: potato stamps, coding, and transposing melodies into colorful painted art!
I feel like I encounter symmetry everywhere but I always think of music and melodies first when I think about symmetry. It exists in pretty much every genre of music I can think of at the moment.
These pics are simple examples used in two videos I found that describe symmetry in the music of Mozart and Haydn:


It’s not too late to join?

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Nice - I like where you are headed with this!- I am hoping to play a bit with an app for ipad called Morphi which has some built in symmetry tools also. They neat thing about this app is that it will 3D-ify your creations and make an STL file that you can 3D print. Our library printers were loaned out to print PPE and haven’t returned but it could be a fun way to explore.


I love this application to music! So cool!


I received my beta testing kit yesterday at the end of the day, so I was able to unbox this morning and start to experiment. This kit is amazing! Thank you Avery and thank you PLIX@! I am so excited to start playing with these materials and seeing what I come up with. Here is a picture of my opened box.


I am trapped on the desk this afternoon and decided to have some rotational fun with our library’s logo stamp in lieu of carving a raw potato on the public floor :potato:

I did 1/4 turns and 1/2 turns. It was challenging at first! I wonder if marking the sides of the stamps, 1,2,3,4 or something would help kids keep track of where they are in the rotations.

I got into a groove and I think they look really neat. Our logo is almost symmetrical in its own right but I like seeing the patterns these rotations made.


Wow Blayne! Your library is a beautiful example of symmetry, for sure!


I found a nice book about symmetry for kids “Seeing Symmetry” by Loreen Leedy - it includes bilateral but also talks bout rotational symmetry and how animals in motion need symmetry for balance and speed. I think it is a good introduction and I would use this book in a program to introduce the ideas at the beginning or to have as a resource for the participants. Here is a readaloud if you want to check it out!


Thank you @Tracy!

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Hello everyone! I’m Tracy Hvezda-Lehtola from the Excelsior branch of Hennepin County Library. Excelsior is a suburb of Minneapolis. I am still awaiting the arrival of the BeauSym kit and getting just a wee bit anxious about that potato! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

From what I’ve seen from everyone’s unboxed photos, the kit looks amazing! In reading through the BeauSym co-design thread, I was inspired by Cara’s potato stamp creation, which reminded me a lot of fabric patterns. I used to do quilting and so I’m thinking I might try out a beta-testing prompt using fabric.

In the meantime, I’ll offer up my favorite palindrome for symmetry inspiration:


So excited to take part in the beta-testing process! Here’s our mighty crew:

We’re sprinkled across 11 different states in the US:

Throughout the beta-testing process, I’m interested in understanding what role asymmetry can play in creating form, pattern, function, etc., and therefore plan to create many imperfect projects :slight_smile: During the initial activity co-design, @JeanSlavkovsky and @claudiahaines (shout-out to the amazing leads behind this project) often discussed that breaking down or disrupting symmetry can be critical in making a creation more interesting. I’ve been looking to nature to find examples, and have become obsessed with the rose-branch murex (Chicoreus palmarosae). Fun fact: all gastropods exhibit assymetry, but it isn’t clear why (here’s one theory, though). Take a look!


Hello all! Shauna Edson here. I am just transitioning in to a new position as the Technology and Digital Equity Mangager at the City Library in Salt Lake City. I am still waiting on my box to arrive but I am super excited about this project.