Monday, November 2, 2009

Math Meets Nature

A few weeks ago, I attended a meeting where children's author Greg Pincus introduced me to

Helianthus whorlImage by Ethan Hein via Flickr

Fibs or poetry based on the Fibonacci sequence. I always think of Fibonacci as a math concept so the idea that he mixed it with poetry intrigued me. It also got me thinking about the curious way that Fibonacci numbers appear in nature. I had forgotten all about this until I got a dried sunflower from my mom this summer and remember hearing that they had some connection to the Fibonacci sequence. My kids and dog got to the sunflower seeds before I ever had a chance to count.

Just in case your math skills are a little rusty and your children haven't gotten to Fibonacci yet, this number sequence starts with 0 and 1. The rest of the numbers are the sum of the two previous numbers so the sequence goes 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144...

The interesting thing to me is that these numbers are repeated throughout nature from the number of petals on a flower to the number of spirals on a sunflower. I did find a technical explanation about why this works that I'm not going to even try to repeat. Next time you're outside with your kids, send them off in search of natural examples of Fibonacci. Pinecones are probably a good one to look for in the fall - count the number of spirals going each way and you should end up with a Fibonacci number.

In closing, here is my Fib for the day - a 20 syllable poem that follows the 1/1/2/3/5/8 pattern.

Our Kids' Earth.
Beautiful. Fragile.
Protect it for their tomorrow.


  1. I'm a big fan of Fibs about nature... a place where Fibonacci numbers and it's kin, the golden ratio, appear a lot (whether by chance or design doesn't matter to me!).

    Thanks for Fibbing and the link... and for having a blog on a rather important topic, too!

  2. I love this topic, especially since I was a math major in college and am now a writer. This is an interesting way to teach our children about nature using math concepts. Great thoughts, Erika.

  3. Greg - Thanks for getting me to write my first Fib. I think I'll have to try more as writing exercises to get the creative juices flowing.

    Debbie - Maybe you'll have to find a way to get math concepts into your children's books?