Saturday, May 25, 2013

Math & Nature Intersect, Again

No, this is not new news, but with the Cicada fever taking over the Mid-Atlantic states of the. US, it is a great opportunity for the average person to gain a bit of an appreciation for the beauty of the mathematical world. My students are anxiously anticipating the emergence of Magicicada Brood II in the Bronx. We've been monitoring the soil temperature since returning from Spring Break, sampling from six locations in the school yard and calculating the mean temperature. Which, by the way, yesterday was a full 2°C above the cicada trigger of 17°C! My Science 4 group spent a period yesterrday surveying the tree trucks for nymphs and molts and the ground around them for emergence holes. Despite several false alarms, no positive signs yet.

Marcus du Sautoy uses the 17 yr Cicada as an example of the pervasiveness of prime numbers (and his favorite number) in Music of the Primes and Num8er My5teries. These are both regular resources that I use in my Math 5 Number Theory unit, so my 5th graders are excited to experience something they've already learned about, and it will be a wonderful first hand refence for my 5th graders next fall!

Recently, in response to #Swarmageddon, The New Yorker posted an article on the role of prime numbers in natural selection. Here's how I shared it with my students via our Edmodo STEM Forum:

As we have often explored in class, and will continue to explore through this forum, Maths are EVERYWHERE! I always say that the numbers have always been there, humans have only found ways to decode some of their mysteries through Maths. Most exciting, we keep discovering new Maths, new ways of describing and understanding the universe in which we live.

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