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Fractals in Nature


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Keywords: Fractals, cut outs
Subject(s): Biology, Art, Science, Life Science, Math
Grade P-K
NETS-S Standard:
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Research and Information Fluency
  • Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Technology Operations and Concepts
View Full Text of Standards
School: H W Byers Attendance Center, Holly Springs, MS
Planned By: Melissa Corry
Original Author: Melissa Corry, Holly Springs
The objective of this lesson is for students to understand that fractals are patterns that repeat and understand the concept of self similarity with regards to fractals.
The teacher will begin with a formative assessment and pique students interest. She will write the word Fractal on the board and ask students if they have ever heard the word or know what it means. If no one makes the connection, the teacher will then play the song from Frozen the animated movie which mentions frozen fractals. The teacher will post the lyrics to the song and ask students what they think the word means and they will discuss. The teacher will show students a head of broccoli or cauliflower and pass it around and allow students to examine. ( Many students will not have ever seen a whole head of cauliflower or broccoli) The teacher will break off a small section and ask students to observe and compare this small section and the larger section and then she will break it into even smaller portions until there is only one tiny portion.Students will work in pairs to research examples of fractals in nature and compile a list of items to look for on a nature walk around the school. Students will use digital cameras to record fractals found on their walks to use in a presentation later. The teacher will discuss appropriate web sites for students to use while researching, and assist students as they search.The teacher will show students examples of fractals in nature on the computer projector screen and a power point about fractals. The teacher will show students photos of aerial views of rivers and let students look for fractal representations.Students will go on a field trip to the Mud Island museum and view a walkable scale model of the entire Mississippi River. Students will learn about Benoit Mandelbrot, who came up with the term fractals and the mathematics behind the concept. Students will learn how to cut and measure paper to create a representation of fractals in a fractal cut out and will elaborate on this once they master the basic patterns to create smaller and smaller representations. These completed works of art will be glued to cardstock to create a three dimensional model. Finally, students will use our class microscopes to view slides and look for fractal representations in plant and animal cells.
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
Art is integrated, and fractals include math and science. History is integrated by way of the field trip and the information on the Mississippi River
Follow-Up
This lesson will be re-visited and reviewed later in the school year.
Materials: Digital Cameras, Microscopes, Elementary
Other Items: 5 microscopes, $100 each, total of $500.00
1 slides( prepared), $50 each, total of $50.00
5 student digital cameras, $40 each, total of $200.00