Week 36: Golden Angle Scavenger Hunt and Drawing Phi-Nominal Phi-lowers

The Golden ratio appears in nature all around us. Flowers and other botanicals often grow at an optimal (Golden) angle of about 137.5 degrees. For the 52-weeks of math activity, I encourage learners to seek out the Golden angle on a scavenger hunt. Take pictures or sketch in a nature journal the pinecones, flowers, and other botanicals that grow in Fibonacci/Golden Ratio spirals. Count the petals, trace the spirals, and collage the scavenger hunt together. Nature is one of the best ways to explore math.

Additionally, I created a Golden Angle grid paper for learners to sketch their own “Phinominal Phi-lowers.” Feel free to print it and play with the spirals and dots. Sometimes seeing flowers, pinecones and succulents can provide inspiration for unique flowers.

For a digital Phi playground and some more background information on Phi (click here).

Golden Angle Grid Paper

Sticky Note Sunflower

What you are seeing is a growth pattern of sticky notes that uses the Golden Angle (137.5 degrees) and then slowly decreases. This angle is commonly found in the plants all around us because it is an optimal angle for growth.

It was a lot of fun playing with the growth angle while creating memorizing spirals in this code, so I created a version for everyone to play with (see below):

https://editor.p5js.org/fractalkitty/present/vThUavVYE (on p5.js – sometimes this network goes down) or:

See the Pen sunflower by Sophia (@fractalkitty) on CodePen.

There is lots of fun to discover here. The fractal starts using the Golden Angle of Phi (137.5) and then decreases. You will find interesting behaviors when the angles approach numbers that divide into multiples of 360 more easily (40, 45, 60, 90, 120, 180, etc…). I wanted to do so much more, but had to stop somewhere.

If you want to know more about Phi, many mathematicians and creative types have presented it better than I (see below):