Fractals Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Mark Boster
There are patterns in math, such as counting by twos! Did you know that patterns also exist in nature and geometry? Let's learn about the fun patterns with fractals!

Mirrors

Have you ever looked at a mirror with another mirror? Have you ever sat between two full-length wall mirrors? Each mirror reflects the other mirror's reflection. So, you see the same thing over and over again in different sizes. Right? It's actually very interesting!

Reflection of Mirror within a Mirror
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Fractals

A fractal is a never-ending pattern. The patterns used in fractals can be different sizes and directions, but the pattern is used over and over to create an ongoing pattern. How neat! As you see in the mirror shown, there is a picture of a woman walking down the hall and a reflection of that within the mirror. Then, there is a smaller reflection of a woman walking down the hall and a reflection of that within the mirror. This seems to continue forever. The pattern never seems to end!

Sierpinski Triangle

Sierpinski Triangle
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Have you ever heard of the Sierpinksi Triangle? This triangle looks like it contains a lot of little triangles! This interesting three-sided figure uses the same shape over and over in a seemingly endless pattern inside itself. If you notice, there is a large triangle (the yellow one) that has been divided into four smaller triangles (the red ones). Then some of those red triangles are divided into four smaller triangles (the blue ones). This pattern continues!

Fractals in Nature

A Fern Leaf and the Planet Saturn
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There are many fractals in nature too. If you look for some, you will find them!

  • Find the picture of the fern leaf. Look at the size and shape of the leaf. Do you notice how the little leaves off the main stem look like the big fern leaf? We have fractals!
  • Look at the planet Saturn. Do you see any fractals? The rings that surround the planet keep repeating in different sizes. Again, we have fractals!

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