Saturday, October 26, 2019

Autumn Math Walk

"Notice that autumn is more the season of the soul than of nature."
 Friedrich Nietzsche

What better time of year to head outside and enjoy the beauty of nature than in the fall!

We have been spending long amounts of time each day exploring the treasures in our yard. The children have been fascinated by how the world around us is changing - leaves are changing colours and falling from trees, Monarchs are gathering the last bit of nectar from the garden before heading South, and we are enjoying the last flowers in our gardens before they wilt and dry.

The children have had many questions about some of the interesting objects they have found in the yard - stumps, leaves, creatures and flowers.


Many of their wonderings have been mathematical in nature - Why is there a pattern on the sunflower's seedhead? What are those holes in the stump and where did it come from? Why is a Daddy Long Legs an arachnid and not a spider?  How do leaves change colours?

There is math everywhere. If one looks deeply enough, there is always a mathematical connection in nature. The sunflower seeds follow the Fibonacci Sequence - a numerical pattern meant to help maximize space and fit as many seeds into the head as possible. The perfect little circles in the stump might have been caused by a wood boring insect or bird looking deep into the bark for food. Daddy Long Legs have a different body than spiders even though they have eight legs. Leaves change colour because the amount of sunlight they need to create their own food lessens in cold weather (as the Earth's axis tilts us away from the sun), resulting in a chemical change in the leaves. 

I've been motivated to continue to look for rich mathematical wonderings and opportunities for inquiry each time I'm outside - even on the weekend with my own children. I find it fascinating to see math applied in an authentic, interesting, real world connection. The math in nature is beautiful! Consider going on your own autumn math walk and seeing what amazing questions and connections emerge with on your journey!

I'm excited to publish my first children's book Autumn Math Walk (Kindle edition) on amazon now. Stay tuned for a print version!

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