This is an activity based on the picture book Wild Fibonacci: Nature’s Secret Code Revealed
- Students will be able to accurately measure (in standard or non-standard units) the length or a spiral
- Students will be able to describe the characteristics of a spiral and identify examples of it in nature.
- Measuring the length of a curved shape requires the creation of a flexible measuring device
- A spiral is a curved line.
Access to natural spirals (shells, snails, koru (fern shoots), worms) or photographs (google images: spirals in nature)
Wild Fibonacci: Nature’s Secret Code Revealed by Joy N. Hulme
String and other craft table materials
Spirals and Curves
This activity is based on the picture book: Wild Fibonacci: Nature’s Secret Code Revealed
Author: Joy N. Hulme
Illustrator: Carol Schwartz
The book is a poem presenting the spiral as it appears in the structure of animals ranging from curves to tight curls. The connection to the Fibonacci spiral is explored in the first pages and there are notes for teachers. The Fibonacci sequence is also presented in the sidebars of the illustrations showing how the sequence is generated by adding two consecutive numbers to create the next number.
- Prior to reading, brainstorm with students about “animal maths”. Can they identify numbers, shapes, patterns, and groups within the animal kingdom? Focus on the vocabulary and discuss what maths they can see on the cover of the book.
- Share the book with your students. Trace the curves and spirals on the pages as they are presented and ask students to trace the shape of the curve on the carpet or on a partner’s back. Stress that they are creating a line with a beginning and an end ask them to create a large tight spiral and encourage them to discover the line is really long.
- Explore spirals in their experience such as the koru, snails and sea shells, vines. It is wonderful to have concrete examples or to go and explore the environment to discover spirals and photograph them. But if this isn’t possible there are many images available online to make a slideshow or print off.
- Present a problem. A scientist is interested in the age of snails and the curves in their shells. She wonders if the shell just gets wider or does it spiral line get longer as the snail gets older. She needs a way to measure the spiral but her ruler can’t do this. How could she measure a spiral?
- Handout paper with different spirals (that look like big snail shells) to pairs of students and direct them to measure the length of their spiral from beginning to end. They can use anything from the table. On the table have rulers, metre sticks, blocks, string, paper, scissors, and other craft materials such as straws or pipe cleaners. Encourage students to explore the materials. They should be supported to discover that a flexible line (such as a string) can be traced along the spiral and then straightened out and laid alongside a ruler or set of blocks to be measured as a straight line. This straight line and the spiral line are the same length.
- On another day, students can take their string and measure spirals in their environment (like koru, or vines, or real snails and creatures under rocks) within destroying the plants or removing the animals. These can then be presented as a graph with the strings stretched out and glued along an axis.