February 7, 2016: Fabulous Fibonacci – For the Love of Mathematics

Ladymaker Bridget Rigby merged Fibonacci, fractals, art, and nature in this playful exploration of mathematics. Bridget gave an overview of binary – or base 2 – numbers by comparing them to the familiar base 10 numbers used in everyday math. Whereas base 10 numbers are expressed in 0 – 9, binary numbers typically are expressed only with 0 (zero) and 1 (one). Bridget led participants through an exercise converting base 10 numbers into base 2 numbers and then introduced an activity to turn math into jewelry.

Moms and daughters picked a personal power word and using base 2 math, converted each letter into a binary number. Using two colors of beads – one color representing “zero” and the other representing “one” – moms and daughters created a beaded segment for each letter of their power words.

Once their calculations were done and their beads in order, moms and daughters strung these beaded segments into binary power necklaces. Binary has never been more beautiful!

Bridget then took moms and daughters through an exploration of Fibonacci spirals and their representation in nature. From pine cones to pineapples, sea shells to galaxies, and daisies to sunflowers – Fibonacci spirals can be found everywhere!

Still more math fun was in store. Bridget opened a discussion about fractals. Fractals are created by repeating a simple process over and over, resulting in a never-ending pattern across different scales. Like Fibonacci spirals, fractals can be found throughout nature. Snowflakes, dandelions, lightning bolts and peacock feathers – these all are examples of fractals.

In the last exercise, participants used scissors and paper to apply a single cutting and folding rule repeatedly to create a fractal Valentine’s card.

This was a challenging project, but before long these flat sheets of paper were transformed into intricate three-dimensional pieces of art.

For those who want to keep their mathematical creativity going, Bridget recommends these resources:

Fractal pop-up cards

Vi Hart math videos

Margaret Wertheim’s TED talk on the beautiful math of coral