Hidden Figures

There is a matrix of mathematics behind everything we see. Students can learn to find the numbers or quantify their observations to reveal and explore unseen patterns. There are numbers behind our observations. Math is as beautiful as the world it describes, but many of us learned it outside of any meaningful context. If applied thoughtfully, mathematics is a simplified and symbolic language with which you can describe the world. On a plant, for example, the number of petals, its overall height, the distances between nodes, the number of visitations by pollinators, the number of aphids per leaf, and its speed of growth are all quantifiable measurements, and they all reveal something interesting about the plant. Inviting students to find the numbers behind their observations gives them a way to use math to reveal patterns they otherwise might not notice. They will be able to apply these skills in their future explorations and journal entries, adding another language and level of precision to the page.    Make a decision about how far to go with this activity. Introducing counting, measuring, timing, and estimating all at once might be too much for your group. If so, you might choose to focus on only one skill per outing. If your students are new to journaling, consider running this activity without journals, so that students only have to focus on one new skill at a time.
Scroll to Top