At Mathnasium of Friendswood, we’re excited to celebrate Earth Day on April 22nd! Math surrounds us, and there are so many ways to appreciate the math we find here on Earth. Number patterns are everywhere if you only look for them! Here are 4 examples of Earth’s mathematical phenomena, with some Earth math facts, too:

The Insect World
Every insect has exactly six legs. Isn’t that neat? It makes you wonder “why?” though. Having six legs allows insects to move while allowing three legs to remain on the ground at any one time – we can call this a “supportive tripod”. Insects are too small to be able to have a “falling” part of walking, as we do and like 4legged animals do.

Snowflakes
We blogged about the wonders of ice and snow this winter! Snowflakes also favor the number six! It is common knowledge that every snowflake is entirely unique, but they all have one major feature in common. Every snowflake contains six sides. The sixsided nature of snowflakes has to do with the water molecule and the composition of ice crystals as water freezes.
Larger snowflakes are actually composed of many ice crystals clumped together, but the ice crystals are formed in the atmosphere as freezing water molecules collect and bond together in intricate, hexagonal patterns.

Flowers
Flowers are a perfect example of mathematical patterns that persist in nature. Flower petal arrangement is governed by symmetry, even in different species of plants. For example, petals can be arranged radially, or around a central bud. One flower with radial symmetry is a daisy, with a large number of petals spiraling around a center. Flowers may have bilateral symmetry, which is when one half of the plant mirrors the other half. Examples of bilaterally symmetrical flowers are pansies or snapdragons. If you folded these flowers in half on top of themselves, they would overlap perfectly. Finally, flowers can be regular, with similar petals throughout (daisy, buttercup), or irregular, with petals differing in shapes and size (orchids, pansies).
One interesting observation with flowers is that they tend to display Fibonacci sequences. The Fibonacci sequence is also known as the golden ratio and is seen throughout Earth’s wonders. Specifically, flowers use the golden ratio to achieve efficiency in growth. One example is the spiral pattern of seeds in the center of a sunflower. Fibonacci sequences allow a sunflower to yield as many seeds as possible with a perfect arrangement in the center.

Gravity
Gravity is a natural force that attracts objects toward the center of the earth. Gravity is stronger when an object exerting the force has more mass. Mass is not the same as weight. Mass is based simply on matter. An object’s weight is equal to its mass multiplied by the force of gravity. As such, our weight on Earth is not the same as our weight would be on another planet with a different gravitational pull.
Gravity also varies based on distance. The further an object is from the center of an object, the less pull it feels. The gravity on Earth is 9.8 m/s^2. You have probably observed that when astronauts are in space, they can appear weightless and float. That is because there is less gravity in space. The moon contains much less mass than the Earth, so it exerts less gravity on astronauts “walking” on it.
Interestingly, gravity does vary slightly in different parts of the Earth. In areas of higher elevation, gravity is reduced (remember – it depends on the distance from the center!). The Earth has what we call an equatorial bulge, or a higher elevation in the band around the equator. This is caused by the spinning of the Earth on its axis. As such, the gravitational pull around the equator is slightly weaker.

There are so many ways we see math at work around the Earth! We’ll end our discussion by mentioning 5 fun number facts that keep us thinking about the wonders that exist around us!

1: how many moons the Earth has. On average, the planets in our solar system have 25.6 moons each!

1,302: the lowest point on earth – the Dead Sea, in feet below sea level.

1/3: the portion of Africa that is covered by the Sahara Desert.

70%: the portion of the Earth covered in water.
We at Mathnasium of Friendswood love the fact that we can always be learning something new about math throughout the year, and days like Earth Day present unique opportunities to do so! Your child can be consistently learning, too, by enrolling in one of our programs. Our students maintain an upward trajectory throughout the school year and during the summer. Our proprietary method helps our students remain engaged and progressing all year long. Click the button below for a riskfree assessment and help decide how we can help your family.