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Math Made Easy: Finding Fibonacci sequence in flower petals

A math teacher organised an interesting class activity to explain the Fibonacci sequence to middle school students



Before solving a math problem, the first thing that any student must focus on is a thorough understanding of the concept or topic. And relating it to a real-life example just makes the job easier.

At Apeejay School, Saket, a math teacher came up with an interesting exercise to explain the Fibonacci sequence to middle school students. In the Fibonacci sequence, each number is the sum of the two preceding ones. Here’s how it starts: 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55,89,144,233,377,610,987…

To understand the sequence, Zenia Dutta, PGT Maths, Apeejay School, Saket, organised a class activity using flowers. The objective was to count the number of petals in different flowers and find that the numbers are members of the Fibonacci sequence.

Also Read: Math Made Easy: 15 tips to score full marks in CBSE class X math exam

The number of petals in a flower consistently follows the Fibonacci sequence. Famous examples include the lily, which has three petals, buttercups, which have five, chicory’s 21, daisies’ with 34, and so on, Dutta explained.

The students were also made to observe a sunflower closely to understand its unique relation to the golden ratio and the Fibonacci sequence. The activity was based on the principle of how the consecutive numbers in the sequence approach the golden ratio which is denoted by phi (F).

“Phi appears in petals on account of the ideal packing arrangement as selected by Darwinian processes; each petal is placed at 0.618034 per turn (out of a 360-degree circle) allowing for the best possible exposure to sunlight and other factors,” the math teacher added.

The head of a flower is also subject to Fibonaccian processes, the teacher said. “Typically, seeds are produced at the center, and then migrate towards the outside to fill all the space. Sunflowers provide a great example of these spiraling patterns.

“In sunflowers, the spirals you see in the center are generated from this sequence — there are two series of curves winding in opposite directions, starting at the center and stretching out to the petals, with each seed sitting at a certain angle from the neighboring seeds to create the spiral.”

How about trying this activity on your own?

Disha Roy Choudhury is a Principal Correspondent at Apeejay Newsroom. She has worked as a journalist at different media organisations. She is also passionate about music and has participated in reality shows.