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Patterns in Nature

Richland Academy / Making Learning Visible  / Patterns in Nature

Patterns in Nature

Patterns in nature are visible regularities of form found in the natural world. These patterns recur in different contexts and can sometimes be modelled mathematically. Natural patterns include  symmetries, trees, spirals, meanders, waves, foams, tessellations, cracks and stripes. “Early Greek philosophers studied pattern, with Plato,  Pythagoras and Empedocles  attempting to explain order in nature. The modern understanding of visible patterns developed gradually over time.”

Plant spirals can be seen in the arrangement of leaves on a stem, and in the arrangement of other parts, as in composite flower heads and seed heads like: the sunflower or fruit structures like the pineapple. As well, patterns are always seen in the scales in pine cones, where multiple spirals run both clockwise and anticlockwise.“These arrangements have explanations at different levels – mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology – each individually correct, but all necessary together.  These spirals can be generated mathematically from Fibonacci ratios: the Fibonacci sequence runs 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13… (each subsequent number being the sum of the two preceding ones.)

 During our last Nature Walk, the JK children were asked this question:

“Can you find patterns on Saigon Trail?” 
“How does the pattern you found tell a story?”

As the children searched and shared the stories of the patterns that they found, my job was to photograph. The slideshow clearly depicts their knowledge of patterns such as:

  • A colour pattern
  • Trees with leaves and no leaves
  • Number patterns
  • The shadow on the trail that depicted “the railroad track”
  • Material patterns

When you are looking closely on a walk or in the forest or outdoors, can you find other patterns to photograph to add to our ‘Collection of Patterns’?

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