Spring Flowers Support STEM Learning

Geometry & Physics in a Dandelion Seed

The seed head of the common dandelion is anything but common. Within the shape and patterns of its seeds are lessons in geometry and physics. Close observations will reveal geometric patterns that can lead a curious mind to identify spiraling patterns known as the Fibonacci sequence. Looking closely and learning how the Fibonacci sequence and Golden Ratio are closely tied can spotlight a mathematical foundation found throughout nature. Learn the sequence and see where you can find it in other places, including pinecones, the shell of a snail, sunflowers, and of course, dandelion flowers and seed heads. The sequence order is 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144 and on to infinity.

Pick a dandelion with a full seed head and give it a puff. Notice how each seed and it’s attached pappus release and take flight. How is that dandelion seed carried through the air, floating across great distances over meadows and river beds? The answer is rooted in physics. In 2018, scientists from the University of Edinburgh discovered a traveling dandelion seed creates a vortex of air, which aids in its propulsion, a concept worthy of biomimicry in aerodynamic techniques. Learn about this discovery in this video and see if you can identify ways human innovation has been inspired by nature.

Plant Species: Dandelion

  • SUPPORTED INTERESTS: STEM. Geometry. Fibonacci Sequence. Physics. Aerodynamics. Biomimicry.
  • CBEdu RESOURCES: Naturalized Plant Species. Native Species. Lawns. Fields. Meadows.
  • SUGGESTED ACTIVITY: Mindful observations.


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