April is Mathematics & Statistical Awareness Month and what better way to celebrate than by looking at math in the world around us? From flowers to seashells, spider webs to tree stumps, bees to their hives, and even in outer space... math is the building block of nature.
Here are a few examples:
Fractals: Fractals are patterns of similar, repeating shapes across different scales. They can be seen in the branches of trees, the leaves of ferns, coastlines, river networks, and lightning bolts. Even neurons in our brain are considered to have fractal behaviors.
Concentric Circles: Just go for a walk in the woods and you'll be sure to find concentric circles, which are circles with the same center but different radii. Check out the rings of a tree or throw a stone in a pond and watch the ripples form concentric circles. In outer space the rings of Saturn are concentric!
Hexagons: A hexagon is a geometric shape known as a six-sided polygon. You may not want to get too close to a bee hive, but you can buy raw honeycomb and see that bees build their hives in hexagons. Snowflakes are also in the shape of hexagons as are bubble rafts, which are bubbles pushed together on the surface of the water that form hexagons.
Spirals: Spirals are a common shape in nature including human DNA. Two examples are the Fibonacci spiral and the golden spiral (a constant arm-radius angle and continuous. These spirals can be seen in pine cones, sunflowers, seashells, snakes, and hurricanes. Even our galaxy is a spiral!
Can your students come up with other examples of fractals, concentric circles, hexagons, and spirals in the word around them?
Check this out: Watch Muzology’s Mathematician-at-Large, James Tanton, PhD (Founder of Global Math Project) explain more about the appearance of the Fibonacci sequence in nature...and what the ancestral code of bees has to do with it! Really!!
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