Hexagonal Pattern of Beehives

This Hexagonal Pattern of Beehives activity & project also includes:

Young geometers and biologists investigate the math of nature in an activity that is just the bee's knees. Participants will study the tessellations of hexagons in a beehive, along with the natural rationale behind the specific shape. Learners perform calculations to justify the bee's use of a hexagon, and then answer synthesis questions to provoke a deeper understanding of the identified characteristics.

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CCSS: Designed
Additional Tags
Instructional Ideas
  • Could be part of a larger unit on math in nature (i.e. Fibonacci in flowers and shells, symmetries of sea creatures, etc.)
  • Good review of equilateral triangle properties
  • Could be used to introduce or justify general area of a polygon formulas
  • Possible links to tessalation projects in art class
Classroom Considerations
  • The more information link for Honeycomb Structure takes the reader to Wikipedia (which may be blocked in the classroom, or a forbidden source for research).
  • Student worksheet is not separated from teacher notes
  • Solutions require deep knowledge of triangles (trig ratios, equilateral triangle properties, etc.)
Pros
  • Elegant and real-life example of math being applied in nature
  • Calculations lead into fundamental properties of polygons
  • Extension questions require synthesis and analysis beyond calculations
Cons
  • Solution example comparing ratios of hexagon perimeter and area to that of a square or triangle is simply given without much explanation or justification (part b)
Common Core