While walking through a forest in the winter, 7th grader Aidan Dwyer
thought he saw a pattern in the way leaves and limbs grew from trees
. Some photography, measurements, and investigating the work of other naturalists confirmed that plants produce new growth following a Fibonacci sequence
This pattern, where the previous numbers are added together to make the next number in sequence (1+1=2, 2+1=3, 3+2=5, 5+3=8, etc.), and its corresponding golden ratio
have been observed all over the nature world. This got Dwyer thinking about why
trees grew in this way, and if there was an evolutionary advantage in doing so. He knew that trees, like all plants, use their leaves to photosynthesize and decided to make that the focus of his investigation.
To do so, he constructed a "tree" using the sequence of leaves found on an oak tree. Except on his tree, Dwyer placed photovoltaic cells
instead of leaves.