Golden opportunity

23rd January 2004 at 00:00
We recently hosted two workshops in which almost 300 Year 5 and 6 pupils from our feeder primary schools investigated the Golden Ratio, that special number which links maths and art.

In maths, pupils started by investigating problems which had solutions that were numbers in the Fibonacci sequence 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34. .

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See: www.mcs.surrey.ac.ukPersonalR.KnottFibonaccifibpuzzles.html

We also looked at how Fibonacci numbers occur in nature. Pupils looked at spirals in cauliflowers and pine cones and counted the number of sections apples are divided into when cut horizontally. Pupils used pre-programmed graphic calculators to generate numbers in the Fibonacci sequence.

They then divided each number by its predecessor, to discover to seven decimal places the number 1.6180339, the Golden Ratio.

Next they completed a tessellation. They learned that regular pentagons do not tessellate but we showed them how "Penrose" tiling enabled them to make a tessellation starting with this regular pentagon.

In the art workshop, the pupils used compasses and graph paper to construct the Fibonacci spiral and made a colourful collage of the spiral to take home.

Pupils and parent helpers were all very enthusiastic. The schools will receive a portfolio of the activities. Primary colleagues said that they would follow up some of the activities as we really only touched on the subject during the time we had.

Carole Sharp, head of maths, Helsby High School, Cheshire

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