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Nature's Puzzles


In this early-education exhibit, children can solve the mathematical puzzles found everywhere in the natural world—from the patterned spots on their pets to the delicate symmetry of a butterfly’s wings. Nature's Puzzles features interactive elements exploring four key themes—repeating patterns, shapes and sizes, designs in nature, and mathematical inquiry—inviting visitors to explore how mathematics helps us understand the natural world in a practical way.

  • Spin a colorful, patterned disc mounted to a butterfly’s wing and marvel at how the patterns align and mix
  • Create their own snowflakes using fractals—geometric shapes that repeatedly subdivide in nature
  • Explore the properties of light and color on a table top with prisms and light
  • Arrange what appear to be simple shapes to create beautiful silhouettes of animals
  • Assemble a series of overhanging cantilevers by balancing wooden blocks

Nature’s Puzzles was developed and designed by The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia.

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