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Mathematics - Just Add Nature!

Posted by Canadian Wildlife Federation | Fédération canadienne de la faune on 8 Feb 2024

Nature provides real-world applications for mathematical concepts that not only enhance students' numeracy skills, but also foster a deeper appreciation of the subject. Whether its patterns, geometry, or modelling, nature provides a wealth of opportunity for mathematical learning!

Check out our tips below and dive into our Online Learning Library for some lesson plans and activities to get you started in integrating nature-based learning into your next mathematics lesson!

  • Measuring with Natural Objects -  Use natural materials like twigs, leaves or rocks for hands-on calculation and measurement activities. Students can compare the lengths of different twigs, measure the circumference of tree trunks using string, or use rocks to practices their addition, subtraction, multiplication and division skills.
    • Geometry - Take students outside to explore geometric shapes and patterns in nature. Get them to identify and measure angles in tree branches, study the symmetry of flowers, or even calculate the volume of a puddle. For younger students, you can conduct an outdoor shape hunt where students seek out and identify different shapes in nature (e.g., tree rings as circles, leaves as triangles, etc.).
    • Data Collection and Analysis - Encourage students to collect data through real-world observation. This could include measuring and tracking precipitation, observing birds visiting a bird feeder, or monitoring plant growth in a school garden. They can then use this data to create graphs, analyze trends, and make predictions, reinforcing concepts of statistics and probability.
    • Fibonacci Sequence in Nature - Introduce students to the Fibonacci sequence and its prevalence in nature, such as in the arrangement of leaves on a stem, the spirals of a pinecone, or the petals of a flower. This can spark discussions about sequences, ratios and exponential growth.
    • Real-world Math Problems - Create real-world math problems that get students involved in applying their math skills, such as calculating the rate of water flow in a river, determining the area of a garden bed, or estimating the height of a tree using shadow lengths and angles. This is a great way to make math more engaging and relevant to students!

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