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The unexpected math of origami - Evan Zodl

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  • 1,568 Questions Answered
  • TEDEd Animation

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Origami, which literally translates to “folding paper,” is a Japanese practice dating back to at least the 17th century. In origami, a single, traditionally square sheet of paper can be transformed into almost any shape, purely by folding. The same simple concepts yield everything from a paper crane with about 20 steps, to a dragon with over 1,000 steps. Evan Zodl explores the ancient art form.

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TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Evan Zodl
  • Director Charlotte Arene
  • Narrator Jack Cutmore-Scott
  • Animator Charlotte Arene
  • Sound Designer Amanda P.H. Bennett, cAMP Studio, Salil Bhayani
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Director Alex Rosenthal
  • Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Editorial Producer Elizabeth Cox
  • Script Editor Alex Gendler
  • Fact-Checker Eden Girma
  • See more
Additional Resources for you to Explore
The best way to learn more about origami is to try it yourself! All you need is a single square sheet of paper. The author of this lesson, Evan Zodl, has been creating instructional origami videos on YouTube for over 12 years. His channel features over 100 step-by-step tutorials for beginners and advanced folders.

If you are new to origami, start with the basics. Simple traditional models such as the crane, flapping bird, and butterfly are perfect for beginners. Use Evan Zodl’s video tutorials to visualize the folding sequences from start to finish.

Origami diagrams are another great way to learn. Diagrams are step-by-step instructions that use a universal set of arrows, lines, and symbols to convey origami sequences. Challenge yourself by folding a traditional origami sailboat from diagrams. If you get stuck, you can follow along with this video tutorial.

To learn more about the origami design process, check out the work of Robert Lang, who was featured in this lesson. Dozens of origami-related articles and publications are available on his website. He also presented a TED Talk which goes into greater detail about origami crease patterns and real-world applications.

The origami community is constantly growing and present around the world. To get involved with this diverse group of folders, creators, and designers, consider joining a local folding group or attending a regional convention. Some of the largest origami organizations include the British Origami Society, Japan Origami Academic Society, and OrigamiUSA.
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About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Evan Zodl
  • Director Charlotte Arene
  • Narrator Jack Cutmore-Scott
  • Animator Charlotte Arene
  • Sound Designer Amanda P.H. Bennett, cAMP Studio, Salil Bhayani
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Director Alex Rosenthal
  • Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Editorial Producer Elizabeth Cox
  • Script Editor Alex Gendler
  • Fact-Checker Eden Girma
  • See more