Spring Flowers Support STEM Learning

Geometry & Physics in a Dandelion Seed

The seed head of the common dandelion is anything but common. Within the shape and patterns of its seeds are lessons in geometry and physics. Close observations will reveal geometric patterns that can lead a curious mind to identify spiraling patterns known as the Fibonacci sequence. Looking closely and learning how the Fibonacci sequence and Golden Ratio are closely tied can spotlight a mathematical foundation found throughout nature. Learn the sequence and see where you can find it in other places, including pinecones, the shell of a snail, sunflowers, and of course, dandelion flowers and seed heads. The sequence order is 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144 and on to infinity.

Pick a dandelion with a full seed head and give it a puff. Notice how each seed and it’s attached pappus release and take flight. How is that dandelion seed carried through the air, floating across great distances over meadows and river beds? The answer is rooted in physics. In 2018, scientists from the University of Edinburgh discovered a traveling dandelion seed creates a vortex of air, which aids in its propulsion, a concept worthy of biomimicry in aerodynamic techniques. Learn about this discovery in this video and see if you can identify ways human innovation has been inspired by nature.

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Children’s Literature & Resources that Support Math

Children’s Literature Can Make Math Fun!

Children’s literature can make math accessible and fun!

It seems as if the connections between children’s literature and topics within many academic disciplines are endless. Captivating stories introduce fascinating historical eras, animal tales for young readers share basic concepts of biology, and stories of community teach children about interacting with new people and building relationships. However, somewhat elusive within children’s literature are math concepts. Perhaps the most challenging academic subject to integrate smoothly into your family’s everyday life, math has often been taught through memorization and drilling rather than through curiosity-driven exploration. However, despite it’s elusiveness, math is very much present within children’s literature, and there are numerous resources to support families in exploring math together… and making it fun!

We asked Beryl Hoffman, assistant professor of Computer and Information Technology at Elms College in Chicopee, and a homeschooling mom living in Florence, what children’s literature she would recommend for families wanting to supplement learning (and a love) of math at home.  She had several great picture books to recommend for children that playfully explore math concepts within a story… Read the rest of this entry »

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