Patterns of Nature

These are activities to accompany the book Patterns in Nature by Pat Murphy.
I was a science adviser for this book, Paul Doherty.

Spirals and Helices

Making an archimedean spiral of rope.
Coil a rope in a flat spiral. Each turn is one rope width further from the center.

Making a logarithmic spiral with rope. This makes a shape like a nautilus shell.

Fibonacci, many plants have Fibonacci numbers of spirals.

Fibonacci Bees, count the ancestors of a male bee and find the Fibonacci series.

A mathematician builds a plant, place the leaves to minimize shading.

Counting Plant Fibonacci 1 Count the spirals in pine cones, pineapples,and sunflowers
Modeling Plant Fibonacci 2 Model these spirals

Meanders

Bending metal or plastic straps

Ice balloons Salt melts an ice balloon and the resulting water carves meandering channels.

Ripples

Wave activities, on a phonecord or slinky, waves in water, ripple marks.

Explosions

Symmetry

Plant dissection, cut apart plants and search for patterns, The Science Explorer.

Strolling Among Flowers, Exploring Article by Maurice Bazin

Right-left, explore a mirror and find out what it reverses.

Right-Left beginning, explore the nature of right and left using rubber gloves.

Mirrors Right-Left advanced test your understanding of right and left using a flat mirror, a curved mirror and a parabolic mirror.

Branching

Find the shortest network joining points.

Count the order of the branches of a stream.

See You're Retina, An amazing branching pattern you've been looking through and not seeing all your life.

Packing

Packing identical balls, place spherical balls all the same size in a shallow bowl and observe how they pack together.

Floating Aluminum Coin packing, float aluminum coins in a tray of water and observe how they pack together.

Cracking

CD in a microwave, place a CD in a microwave, turn on the power for 2 seconds or so and observe the pattern etched into the metal by electrical discharges.

Mud in a tray on a warm plate. Heat a thin layer of muddy clay in a shallow pan over a warm plate. Watch it dry out and crack.

Bubbles in a bottle, fill a bottle with bubble solution, pour it out and the bottle fills with bubbles. Notice the bubble patterns.

Bubbles in a CD jewel box

Bubbles in 3-D, Snackbook

Bubble prints : The Science Explorer Bubble Prints Activity, Use dye colored soap bubbles to print bubble patterns onto paper.

Fractals

Paint fractals Make a fractal pattern on plastic using enamel paint.

Fractals in Nature, Exploring Article, The Practical Fractal, Mary Miller

Bifurcation, drip food coloring into water.

 Scientific Explorations with Paul Doherty © 2005 23 September 2005