Symmetry, the Bilateral Kind: Looking into Nature to Find the Balance

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As we approach Autumn, things will be slowing down for us on the mountain and in the desert.  This is a very important time to still be able to go outside into Nature and find the balance.  Take pictures, enjoy the time outside and when it starts to cool down.  Notice what the plants are showing you in terms of symmetry, especially the bilateral kind.

Yes, there are different types the symmetry, but what we are all familiar with is the type that we know when we can “cut” something in half, or see the same image reflected on the other side, or even think of it as the mirror image.  However young or young-at-heart we are, this is something that we can all enjoy learning about!

Go for a walk soon and figure out what is symmetrical.  This would be also a great time to put together a math nature journal too!  Take this mushroom above, where would you place the mirror to reflect the same image?  The place that you have the mirror is called the line of symmetry.  How many lines of symmetry could this mushroom have?  One? Two? More?  Go with those questions when you go for a walk outside.  Don’t have a mirror? Take a pencil or a straight stick with you.  Place the stick where you would a mirror and eyeball it.  Where’s the line of symmetry?  🙂

If you are not able to go outside right now and explore, print out the pictures from the website, or place them up on the screen.  Get out a mirror and see where the mirror can be placed so that the same image can be seen.  Play with it!  In some cases, it might not be exactly symmetrical, but close enough.

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Something To Think About:

Have a conversation with your child, or with someone else about what it means in Nature to be symmetric.  What does a symmetric plant tell the pollinators: the bees, the hummingbirds, and the butterflies?  Is it still alright for something to be not symmetrical?  Yes! There are many beautiful examples of what is not symmetrical, or what we call asymmetrical.  Everything in the Mathematical world has a place and importance, so asymmetrical is also wonderful and tells us a great many stories too!  Hmmmmm, I think I see a future post here!

Learning about Mathematics is not about getting to the finish line first, it is actually getting there and having an understanding and an appreciation for it.  The more we can connect with how our world is tied to Mathematics, the more we can see the patterns unfolding and even the importance of balance. Also remember that a good rule when we go out to explore is that the only thing we take are pictures, drawings, notes, and memories.  It is best to leave the plant in the natural habitat.

copyright 2017 Christina Grossman. All Rights Reserved