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Earth Day Math Activities and a Contest from DreamBox Learning

Spring has to be one of our favorite times of year: the weather (while a bit drizzly) is finally warming up, flowers are blooming, and Earth Day is right around the corner!

To welcome spring and foster nature appreciation, we’re having an Earth Day contest! You could win a free 6-month subscription to DreamBox Learning K-3 Math. To enter: Pledge one thing on this blog post or the DreamBox Facebook Page that you’re going to do to help the planet. It could be something simple, like pledging to use less plastic bags or bringing a reusable water bottle to the gym. We’ll pick one winner in a random drawing on April 23.

We emphasize bringing math into everyday life at DreamBox, and there is no better time than spring to do so. Nature is the host of all sorts of magical maths, and you don’t need to look any further than your backyard to find them.

Fibonacci sequence for Earth Day

Have you heard of the Fibonacci Sequence? 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89… and on and on. Even if you didn’t know its name, you see the Fibonacci Sequence all over — in sunflowers, sea shells, unfurling ferns, and pine cones, just to name a few.

Even if the mathematical proof is a little advanced, this beautiful short film does a lovely job showing examples from nature.

Celebrate Earth Day with awesome math activities

What is Earth Day all about? Treasuring the natural world for all it has to offer, math-related and otherwise. What are some things that you, your kids, and your classroom can do to discover the math in Earth Day?

Talkin’ trash

On average, everyone in the United States throws away 4.4 pounds of garbage every day. No wonder that, at one point, the Fresh Kills Landfill in New York was visible from space!

Try to figure out how many pounds of trash each person in your family or classroom has thrown away in his or her lifetime. It’s a pretty big number, right?

Save the trash bag in your classroom or kitchen and at the end of the day spread out the contents on old newspaper. See which items could be recycled or composted. How much would recycling reduce the pile? One half of the total? A third? Even a quarter? Does this make a difference?

Hint: the answer is yes – every little bit matters!

Paper or plastic?

The last few years has seen a dramatic response to the use of plastic water bottles and plastic bags in grocery stores. Who do you know that drinks from a reusable water bottle? Does anyone in your family use reusable grocery bags, instead of non-biodegradable plastic ones or brown paper ones?

Did you know it takes a 15-20 year old tree to make 700 paper bags? How many grocery sacks to you use every time you go to the store? Do you recycle them? How long would it take you, personally, to save 1 tree if you stopped using paper bags in favor of reusable grocery bags?

Trees on Earth Day

To infinity and beyond

Infinity can be a tricky concept — it’s hard to define something that goes on forever…and ever…and ever. And it’s even harder to explain infinity to children. Use your environment to help kids try to grasp the concept! Go to a beach, or a large grassy field. On a rainy day, look out the window. Is there a way for you to count every grain of sand, or every blade of grass, or every raindrop? What about every grain or blade or drop in the entire world? (By the way, someone suggested that they’d explain infinity like this: No matter how a big a number you choose, you can always add one to that number to get an even bigger number.)

The wild world of math

Take a look at all the shapes that occur in nature, both big and small. Are there shapes that you and your kids can match that you might not have noticed before? Perhaps there is a small rock that is the same shape as a distant mountain or hill. How many shapes are there in one single flower? Look at the stem, the leaves, the petals, everything! You might be surprised at how many you find!

Enjoy these Earth Day activities and the great outdoors (drizzly rain or sunshine). Learning + Sunshine = a happy day for kids, so consider holding class  outside or going for a walk.

Comment on this blog post or write on our Facebook wall with how you plan to help the planet and you could win a free 6-month subscription to DreamBox Learning K-3! Happy Earth Day everyone.

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