The Story of Rabbits… and the Fibonacci Sequence

A quick ‘math’ story for you:

Once upon a time there was a girl who loved to garden. This girl liked to work in the garden to plant peas, weed watermelon, and grown all sorts of tasty and interesting fruits and vegetables. In fact, not only did this girl have a green thumb, her whole hand was green!

On the first day of fall, the girl went into her garden to pluck some peas. There in front of her, merrily munching on some carrots, was ONE PAIR of bunnies Well, the bunnies were very cute, and the girl was very kind, so she let them be (A different kind of person may have shoo-ed them from the garden, but not this girl).

On the second day of fall, the girl went to her garden again. This time, low and behold, those baby bunnies had turned to full-sized adult rabbits! But… they were still cute, so she let that ONE PAIR alone. After all, what were a few cabbages? She didn’t mind if they ate some of the vegetables.

On the third day, the girl couldn’t wait to get out to her garden. This time, she was all set to prune the parsnip. She looked around for her rabbits, but instead of seeing just one pair of rabbits, there were now TWO PAIRS— an adult pair and a pair of babies. Hmmm…

The fourth day of fall was another lovely day, and so the girl went into her garden once again. “Oh my goodness!” she exclaimed. Not only were there the original adult rabbits, but the new bunnies had grown into adults and then the originals had had another set of baby bunnies. Now there were THREE PAIRS of rabbits and bunnies.

You kind of get the picture, right? The fifth day came along and there were FIVE PAIRS of rabbits and bunnies; the next day there were EIGHT PAIRS of rabbits, and so on, and so on, and so on.

If this pattern were to continue, how many rabbits and bunnies would soon be in this girl’s garden?

This story, my friends, describes an adaptation of the rabbit problem that Leonardo Fibonacci, a mathematician who lived hundreds of years ago in Italy, is so famous for. He was studying a math problem not too different from the scenario described here when he stumbled across this special pattern of numbers. Take a look at this interesting sequence:

1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8 . . .

What comes next, but more importantly, how do you determine that next term in the sequence?

(If you said that 13 comes next and it’s because you always add the previous two terms to get the next, you would be 100% correct!)

You can read a math fairytale to explore this fun Fibonacci rabbit problem:

Or, you can explore the pattern further by creating a delicious math recipe called Fibonacci Snack Sticks. . .

Fibonacci (and pattern) is just plain fun. Quick, run out and see how the rabbit population is growing in your neighborhood park or backyard!

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