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  • Writer's pictureWendy De la Garza

Patterns and pine tree parts

Being able to identify patterns is super important when exploring Science topics. It helps us to ask questions and create order in our thought process. Nature is full of patterns. My son came home from Middle School Algebra class with questions about Fibonacci numbers. I love a good nature mystery, so we dug in!

Fibonacci was an Italian mathematician in the Middle Ages who found number patterns in nature interesting as well. Beginning with 0 and 1, you add so that each subsequent number is the sum of the previous 2 numbers. So, they would be 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55…etc. 0 plus 1 is 1. 1 plus 1 is 2. 1 plus 2 is 3. 2 plus 3 is 5. 3 plus 5 is 8. If you see one of these numbers in nature, you see a ”Fibonacci” number.

Pine cones have 2 consecutive Fibonacci numbers. One clockwise, one counterclockwise. We used a Sharpie to help us keep track of the spirals!! If you can find a completely closed pine cone it will be easier to do this.

This stem of a Pine tree shows its leaf scars. I found the leaf (needle) scar spirals on the photograph I took instead of the stem itself. If you count pine needles, you will also find them in bundles of Fibonacci numbers.

These are the books I used to help in our exploration of this topic. There is also research online to help keep you down this rabbit hole.

Take a closer look and count your body parts, study a hurricane map, look at building construction, the pineapple you are growing, flower petals…

If I were creating something new, I would lean toward a Fibonacci sequence!

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