**This beautiful and fun STEAM activity will make math come alive to your kids!**

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Everyone knows the line in the movie Frozen that says, “frozen fractals all around,” but do you know what a fractal really is?

A **fractal** is *a repeating pattern in nature that starts simple but gradually gets more complex.*

You can explore the basics of fractals, the math behind them, and why they exist while making these simple fractal suncatchers. It’s a fun STEAM activity to try with your kids.

## Nature Fractal Suncatchers

Before getting started, you’ll need just a few things.

**Fractal Activity Supplies**

- Laminator
- Permanent markers
- Washable markers
- Hole punch
- String
- Natural materials

**Fractal Activity Procedure**

This STEAM activity is about exploring the fractals and patterns in nature and repeating them on bright colored sun catchers that you can use to bring a little bit of science to your decorations.

Before starting, discuss fractals and how to find them in nature, and why all organic things follow a specific mathematical pattern that results in fractals (more on this below).

Let the kids go outside (visiting a park is best) and select the natural materials that illustrate their favorite fractal patterns. Bring the nature inspiration inside.

Draw a circle on the inside of your laminating pocket.

Draw the outline of the fractal pattern onto the circle with a permanent marker.

Use a washable marker to color in the circle.

Close the laminating pockets and run them through the laminator.

Punch a hole in the top of the sun catcher with a hole punch and tie a string through the hole. Hang your sun catchers where they can get plenty of sunlight.

## The Science Of Fractals

A mathematician named Benoit Mandelbrot (watch his TED talk) coined the term fractal in 1975. A fractal is a visual expression of a repeating pattern that starts simple, but gets more and more complex as it expands.

Another term for fractal is expanding symmetry. The classic example of a fractal is a snowflake, which is produced with a very simple formula, but snowflakes are incredible complex. (Learn more about snowflake science)

There are several levels of fractals, which include:

- Exact self-similarity: The same on all scales.
- Quasi self-similarity: The same pattern repeated in different scales.
- Statistical self-similarity: A numerical pattern.
- Qualitative self-similarly: A time pattern.
- Multifractal scaling: Multiple fractal formulas in one.

Common fractals in nature include:

- Rivers
- Fault lines
- Mountains
- Algae
- Heart rates
- Plants
- Coastlines
- Animal patterns

For more information on fractals, download this** free educators guide to fractals.**

Jana Stepp says

Hi! We’ll be trying this experiment, but I just want to give you a heads up that I think your laminator has been recalled (we had the same one):

https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2018/scotch-thermal-laminators-recalled-by-3m-due-to-burn-hazard

I don’t want any little hands getting burned! Or mommy hands, for that matter.

Marci Goodwin says

Oh no! I will link to another one! That’s a really popular one