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Finding the Fibonacci Sequence in Nature

based on 13 ratings
Author: Megan Doyle

Grade Level: 6th to 8th; Type: Mathematics

Objective:

Find examples of the Fibonacci sequence.

Research Questions:

  • What parts of nature utilize the Fibonacci sequence?
  • What parts of nature are not made up of Fibonacci numbers?

In mathematics, the Fibonacci numbers form a sequence. You start with 0 and 1, and produce the subsequent numbers in the Fibonacci sequence by adding the two previous numbers. Fibonacci sequences have been observed throughout nature, like in leaves, flowers, pine cones and fruit. In this experiment, students will try to show examples of the Fibonacci sequence in their everyday surroundings.

Materials:

  • Nature (eg, fruit, leaves, trees, insects, etc…)
  • Notebook for recording and analyzing results

Experimental Procedure:

  1. Create a list of Fibonacci numbers.
  2. Start by performing these simple introductory experiments evaluating Fibonacci numbers in nature.
  3. Go outside and pick a flower.
  4. Count the number of petals on the flower. Does the number of petals equal a Fibonacci number? Black-Eyed Susans, for example, have 21 petals.
  5. Cut a piece of fruit in half so that you create a cross-section.
  6. Count the number of sections or the number of seeds in the fruit. Do you discover any more Fibonacci numbers?
  7. Start your own investigation. Where do you find examples of the Fibonacci sequence? What parts of nature are not comprised of Fibonacci numbers?

Terms/Concepts: Fibonacci sequence; Fibonacci numbers in nature

References: Knott, R. et al. “The Life and Numbers of Fibonacci.”

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