🗃U1LA1 Mini Project: Taijitu Symbol

How can code be used as a creative and expressive medium?


Taijitu is a symbol representing the religious and philosophical tradition of Taoism (also called Daoism). The term means a ‘diagram of the supreme ultimate,’ and it refers to the famous Chinese concept of yin and yang, of opposites existing in complete harmony.
Taijitu Or Yin-Yang Symbol
The Taijitu symbol consists of two (one black and one white) swirling ‘teardrop’ shapes that fit within each other to form a perfect circle. Each figure contains a part of the other so that there is a black dot in the white half of the circle and a white dot in the black portion. These seemingly opposing, but complementary halves make a whole and thus, are incomplete without each other.
The dark or shady side represents Yin, and the white or sunny side represents Yang. Yin is associated with femininity, earth, water, moon and nighttime and is considered passive, cold, soft, yielding and wet. Meanwhile, Yang is associated with masculinity, sin, fire, sky, and daytime and is considered aggressive, hot, hard and dry. The white symbolizes delusion and black represents enlightenment.
Project adapted from: Susan Evan’s 1-day p5.js workshop
Directions: Your task is to recreate the Taijitu symbol using code in p5.
  1. 1.
    Use shapes that we covered in this unit
  2. 2.
    Add comments to the different shapes
  3. 3.
    Use fill and stroke the change the colors of the shape
  4. 4.
    Center it in the middle of the canvas.
Writing Prompt:
  • Look around the room you are in and see how many yin/yang relationships you can see. List them.
  • Research and find out what are some pros and cons to coding.


p5.js Generated Taijitu Symbol on grey background


Culturally Responsive Best Practice

This project not only assesses students' ability to understand how to sequence functions in a program to get interesting results on screen, but it does so through a symbol that has a rich meaning and background. This can be a great moment for students to learn about other cultures, but there are also ways to make it more relevant to your student population and even tie it into other courses! Most sophomores in my class are quick to connect this to what they have learned about Daoism in their World History 1 course freshman year - consider looping your social studies teachers in on this project to help support learning.
Additionally, this is a project that could be completed in small groups/whole class to make room for exploration that is more culturally driven. After the challenge and practice of recreating a Taijitu symbol, you could ask students to think of any important symbols to them or in their culture and then recreate those in code. (They could also be asked to imagine/brainstorm things that are important to them/their culture and create a symbolic representation that involves overlapping shapes!) This is also a great extension activity for students who move quickly through the course.


Directions: Create your own meaningful symbol, like the Taijitu it should have meaning and represent something.
Writing Prompt:
  • Explain the meaning to your symbol.
  • Why did you choose to create this symbol?
  • If you can add colors how would it play a role in your symbol?