We just got through reading Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature, a wonderful picture book written by Joyce Sidman with beautiful detailed scratch-board illustrations by Beth Krommes. The illustrations are bold, colorful, and full of texture. It is about reoccurring shapes in nature specifically the spiral. The book show many examples, explains some of the functional benefits (for example an animal might curl up in a spiral to conserve heat), and celebrates the inherent beauty of spirals. At the end it also explains spirals as mathematical patterns. The mathematical term for reoccurring patterns in nature is fractals.
On my drive this morning I was looking at trees and their branches which are so visible now without leaves. Branches are another example of a repeating pattern in nature. After reading this book you will start looking for them! River networks and blood vessels also have the same branching characteristic. It makes me want to learn more about fractals. Has anyone seen the PBS program Nova: Hunting the Hidden Dimension? Can’t wait to check it out!
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Update! I watched the hidden dimension. Check out Teaching Fractals which includes a printable fractals activity for kids!