Nature by numbers

11 July , 2010

Teaching mathematics in mathematics education, I now and then have lectures on the mathematics found in nature. I rather like this subject and enjoy finding new ways of attacking the problems in there. I must say, that I don’t think I have seen a nicer illustrations of the phenomena og Fibonacci numbers and golden sections, than can be found in the video below. It has been circulated from YouTube for some time and I hope you will enjoy it too.

My guess is, it serves nicely as a kind of repetition of the concepts for students already familiar with them.

The imaginary number of the beast

13 October , 2009

How much is one million (giraffes)?

12 June , 2009

I just flipped through a book called “How much is a million” (and later found out- others exist with a similar topic).
The points of the book(s) are to visualize to children how they can picture the size of a million objects of some sort.

My previous and current students and pupils more often than not amuse me with creativity and humor. Yesterday, a previous mathematics pupil of mine, Ola, seem to have fallen right into the trap of NOT being able to picture one million objects! 🙂 (…and who can blame him) I really hope he can prove me wrong so that all those mathematics lessons don’t turn out to have been useless, and perhaps he will! He made a bet with a friend, claiming he can collect a million hand drawn pictures of giraffes in around two years time. At the moment of writing he has gotten a few thousand drawings, have published a few hundred of them and has almost six hundred days to collect the rest of them. Being the kind and helpful teacher that I am (or was) I have to help trying to promote his project in several ways:
– I force all my family and friends to send him giraffes
– I promote him on my twitter feed
– I write this blog and cross-post it to my other blogs and facebook

This is the giraffe I sent Ola

This is the giraffe I sent Ola

Other helpful tips for Ola:
– use the next year’s Earth hour for all that it’s worth. The earth needs a giraffe hour.
– I will also try to make all my new students next year draw giraffes of course… This year students faced a similar task, trying to draw a mathematics teacher the way they picture him (I say him, because around 95 % are male. The class thought was pretty strange, because in teacher education, it seems around 90 % are female!)
– How about trying to have giraffe drawing as an exercise in kindergardens, pre-school, primary school (and upper secondary schools and higher education!) all over the world?
– Publishing on the Internet is one thing (or rather, one TEDIOUS thing…), why not make a “Best of the giraffes” and turn it into a book? Or t-shirts… (Next project ?) I’d buy a handpicked-by-Ola giraffe t-shirt anytime.
– Let people comment on each others drawings on the web site. Maybe vote for the best giraffes.
– Get interviews from those who made the bet
– Visit the Kristiansand Zoo for inspiration and giraffe info (this reminds me of Monkey news, from the Ricky Gervais show)
– Schedule interviews with Norwegian TV for children (Portveien 2, a famous children program from the 80-90’s?)
– Get permalinks, so people proudly can display “I’m a part of the onemilliongiraffes project!” on their blogs…
– Ask celebrities to send you their giraffes (some have already done that!)


So, head over to and upload/mms/send/mail/e-mail Ola your giraffe pictures! You can also follow the project on twitter. And while you are at it, you can listen to giraffe music on Spotify, or draw giraffes on Shidonni, that also will walk about and eat the food you draw for them…

*EDIT* Here’s one of several newspaper articles on his project: Aftenbladet. And I have lost count of his television appearances and other spots…