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Maths Week Scotland 2021: Fibonacci Numbers

This week is Maths Week in Scotland, and the theme in 2021 is 'Our World', and is focussed on both the climate emergency and finding maths in the world around us.

So, since half-term is right around the corner, My Primary Tutor thought we'd write this week's blog about finding maths in the world around us, and give you some fantastic ideas for ways to bring maths into primary children's every day experience. We all know that maths is learned at its deepest when it is given in a context, and the natural world contains maths in spades.

What Are Fibonacci Sequences?

Leonardo de Pisa (also known as Fibonacci) was an Italian mathematician who lived in the 13th Century, and who discovered a pattern which occurs with astounding regularity in the natural world, and which is now known as the Fibonacci Sequence. (It's worth noting that Fibonacci was not the first mathematician to discover the sequence, but he was the first to publish it!)

The sequence is a simple one which goes as follows:

Beginning with 0 and 1, each following number is the sum of the previous two numbers.

0+1 = 1

1+1 = 2

1+2 = 3

2+3 = 5

3+5 = 8

5+8 = 13

8+13 = 21

Where can we find examples of Fibonacci?

Examples of Fibonacci numbers which we see in nature include petals on flowers and branches on a tree and patterns on seed heads.

It's a simple pattern, but with a nifty little trick (visualising the numbers as squares with widths), it becomes something which is found repeated in nature over and over again - the spiral - which can be seen in shells, pinecones (look at the bottom) and even galaxies!

(Tree Branches picture found here, Anglerfish Ovary picture found here)

We LOVE this TED talk which explains what Fibonacci numbers are and WHY they are important (as well as beautiful!)

Try this fun Fibonacci Activity!

So, when you're out for a walk at half term, why not set up a Fibonacci hunt?

  • Show the kids this fantastic video, which explains Fibonacci numbers.

  • Together, work out the Fibonacci sequence, maybe up to 10 numbers.

  • Take a camera or mobile phone with you can go on a Fibonacci hunt - count petals on flowers, leaves on plants, hunt for snails and find a spiral, count ridges and bumps on leaves...see how many you can find that match one of the numbers in your sequence, or that have a Fibonacci spiral! (At this time of year, seed heads are a great one to concentrate on as there are loads about as we move into Autumn!)

If you feel that your child could use regular support in maths, or to build their confidence, why not get in touch with Karen on and find out how My Primary Tutor can help your child to find the relevance and the beauty of maths today!

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