Trees and trigonometry on cross-curricular trip

A trip to Kew Gardens gave Year 9 boys the opportunity to explore both biological and mathematical patterns.

The visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens was organised jointly by the Mathematics and Biology departments and involved 40 boys. It gave pupils a chance to plan and execute scientific and mathematical investigations of the world around them.  A video is being produced so that other boys can also benefit from the results of the day.

“From plotting the heights of trees against their circumference to testing the frequency of Fibonacci* numbers in nature, the boys made the most of the visit,” said Gillian Ridge, Head of Biology. “They used principles of Biology to explain patterns they saw as well as trigonometry in a real-life setting to find the heights of trees. It was a thoroughly rewarding and enjoyable day.”

""They were able to apply prior knowledge to new situations and also to understand how the two subjects, Biology and Mathematics, relate to one another. The cross-curricular nature of the trip enabled boys to explore trigonometry, frequency analysis, correlation and Fibonacci sequences – as seen in spirals in pine cones and sunflowers The boys also learned about the uses and adaptations of plants, including carnivorous plants such as the Venus fly trap. 

""They have since built upon their experiences at Kew, investigating the golden ratio** and making posters to explain their findings. “We are sharing footage from the day with other students as an education resource for this summer’s examinations, making a video including pineapples, trigonometry and hand-made clinometers,” said Head of Mathematics, Jessica Steer.

*The Fibonacci sequence is a set of numbers that starts with a one or a zero, followed by a one, and proceeds based on the rule that each number (called a Fibonacci number) is equal to the sum of the preceding two numbers.

** The golden ratio (the symbol is the Greek letter "phi") is a special number approximately equal to 1.618 which appears many times in nature, geometry, art, architecture and other areas.