Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Fibonacci Lesson Plan

Here's a quick little lesson plan I threw together for the fifth graders today. It uses Microsoft Excel and Fibonacci Numbers to practice cell reference, formulas and charts.

  1. First introduce Fibonacci Numbers. I used wikipedia's entry to introduce the concept. It helped that the kids were already familiar with it from math class. Be sure to point out the elaborate algebraic formula represented: Fn=Fn-1+Fn-2,
  2. Have students open a blank Excel file.
  3. Highlight cells A1 and A2. I used bright yellow. This is to designate them as the cells where the student will change the values.
  4. In cell A3 type the following formula "=A1+A2"
  5. Type the number "1" in both cells A1 and A2. This is to illustrate that the formula in A3 works.
  6. Then in cell B1 type "=A2"
  7. In cell B2 type "=A3"
  8. Auto fill cell A3 down to B3
  9. Row B should now reflect a Fibonacci Number sequence.
  10. Auto fill B1:B3 down to about row ten. Notice how quickly the numbers grow.
Try a few different numbers in the highlighted cells. Point out how all the data changes based on the information in the two highlighted cells. The reason is cell reference and formulas.

Next create a chart to illustrate the relationship between the numbers.
  1. select column C from row 1 through 10
  2. Go to Insert and select various charts.
  3. Place the  chart next to the column of data.
  4. Compare various charts to see which ones give the best representation.
  5. Change the values in the highlighted cells and point out that the curve of the chart does not change even though the initial values change - that's because Fibonacci Numbers represent a relationship!

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