Can you find the fractals?
This lesson adapted and/or developed by Dwayne Cabaniss and Judy Fitzpatrick with the support of a generous 2011-2012 grant from the MathScience Innovation Center in Richmond, VA ( For more information on fractals go to Fractal Keys
Background for Teacher: Fractals occur in nature. Watch the power point
Nature’s numbers #1-4 for examples of fractals in nature
For each group of three students:
Broccoli stalk, cauliflower head, sea shell, pineapple
Estimated Time: Procedure: (Include data collection procedures, repeated trials, add graphic organizer on
- Contact Dwayne Cabaniss or Judy Fitzpatrick at: or
- Lesmoir-Gordon, N., Rood, W., and Edney, R. Introducing Fractals: A Graphic Guide, Icon Books, London, UK (2009).
We want your input! Upon completion of this lesson, please contact Dwayne Cabaniss and Judy Fitzpatrick with any comments, questions or other feedback regarding the use of fractals as a teaching tool. Or, you may complete the survey at:
Procedure:Step 1 / The teacher will discuss observation: what you see, feel, taste, hear, or smell (Scientists construct knowledge from observations and
inferences, not observations alone. To communicate an observation accurately, you must provide a clear
description of exactly what is observed and nothing more. Those conducting investigations need to understand
the difference between what is seen and what inferences, conclusions, or interpretations can be drawn from the
observation.) Observation is the use of senses to collect information about the environment
Step 2 / Give each group of three students a stalk of broccoli or head of cauliflower, fern, sea shell, or pineapple.
Step 3 / The students observe the object carefully looking for patterns. The students write down what they see and feel and hear and smell, but do not taste.
Step 4 / The students take a picture of the object using the Proscope or camera. (If technology is available, the students type their descriptions under the photo.)
Step 5 / The students make inferences as to any similarities of their object and another object that they have seen.
Step 6 / Show one of the websites with examples of fractals in nature. The students are told that the objects that they see are fractals. They are to determine the characteristics of a fractal.
Step 7 / The students are told the characteristics of a fractal and then look carefully for those characteristics in the objects on their table.