Fibonacci spirals


Wednesday, March 1st, was Ash Wednesday – the start of Lent. Every year I want to make Lent a more important Thing (in the way that Advent and Christmas have grown for me), and every year I experience existential angst (bordering on crisis) over this situation. So. I started Wednesday by getting out of bed before I was ready. WITH PURPOSE. I just wanted the day to be markedly different.


I saw a post on Instagram about the Fibonacci sequence – a home-schooling/blogging Mom shared a picture of her son investigating Fibonacci spirals in nature photos. I had a Eureka moment: we could go outside LIKE RIGHT THEN and do our own Fibonacci spiral investigation, and then in the afternoon (when it was supposed to storm crazy) we could talk about the math and keep looking at our samples.


Now. To be honest. My BIGGEST understanding of Fibonacci spirals has to do with photography. You know how most of my photos are off-center? Well. It’s because I try (lazily) to use a Fibonacci spiral to guide your eyes over my pictures to the most important part. But. In what I call “ScienceMath” when I’m making the kids pay attention, a Fibonacci sequence is a sequence of numbers in which each number is the sum of the two numbers before it. The basic version is [0,] 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 55 – but technically you can start with any number and fall into the same general pattern.


Confident that I knew more about Fibonacci sequence and spirals and numbers than the kids knew, yay, we went out. We looked up at the pine trees and down at the weeds and all around at the new growth. It didn’t take long for the kids to start up with “Yes, we saw the spiral look. Yes. Yes, we saw. And that one. WOW, good job finding another one. Okay. Yes. We saw.” but I was prepared for that and kept gleefully pointing out examples and rippin’ off little branches and pullin’ up weed clumps and so on. I also took pictures. After a while we found two cicada shells and I took that as my signal to stop and head home.


The rest of the day was sort of wonky. When I decided it was definitely time to make the boys do the math portion of the project, most of the samples were wilted. Oh well. We graphed out boxes and drew a spiral and did the first few numbers in the sequence (the ones they would readily do mentally). We also watched three GREAT videos on Khan Academy (In the Math for fun and glory section – Doodling in Math), AND I LEARNED A WORD (and will blog about it next).