The Math Behind Flowers in Atherton

Currently in Atherton, flowers are blooming like crazy. It seems as if everywhere one looks, bunches of beautiful, colorful flowers meet one’s eyes. While flowers are nice to look at, people often forget or fail to realize that mathematics are at work in the growth of flowers. This week, we wanted to introduce just a few mathematical concepts that govern flowers. More on this complex and curious topic can be found here.

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Many flowers and plants, such as the sunflower, display spiral patterns in which each leaf, seed, or petal follows the next at a particular angle. This angle, which is approximately 137.5º,  is called the golden angle. This angle either has been or will be covered in geometry class, but to summarize, two radii of a circle C form the golden angle if they divide the circle into two areas A and B so that A/B = B/C.

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Plants with spiral patterns related to the golden angle also display another fascinating mathematical property. The seeds of a flower head form interlocking spirals in both clockwise and counterclockwise directions. The number of clockwise spirals differs from the number of counterclockwise spirals; these two distinct numbers are called the plant’s parastichy numbers.

These parastichy numbers actually have an extraordinary consistency: they are almost always two consecutive Fibonacci numbers, which your child either already has learned or will learn in school. The Fibonacci numbers form the sequence 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21 . . . , in which each number is the sum of the previous two.

We hope that this little snippet of the mathematics behind flowers was interesting! There is much more to read up on this topic, so if your child is interested, any one of Atherton’s libraries is sure to have books with more information. Hopefully, this post will drive you to pay just a little closer attention to the beautiful flora we have here in Atherton! For more fun ways to learn math, visit The Mathnasium of Palo Alto-Menlo Park.

Menlo Park’s May Math Mayhem

Hope everyone in the Menlo Park area has been having a terrific month! Now that we’re well into May, we at the Mathnasium of Palo Alto-Menlo Park wanted to celebrate with some interesting facts about the month, as well as some tricky May-themed math problems that you can share with your child. Because May is the fifth month of the year, we have five of each for you all!

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Interesting Facts About May

1. Its name originates from Maia, the Greek goddess of fertility.

2. May’s birthstone is the emerald, which is said to represent love and success.

3. May was once considered an unlucky month in which to get married. In fact, there is a poem that says, “Marry in May and you’ll rue the day.”

4. The Empire State Building in New York officially opened on May 1st, 1931.

5. May is National Hamburger Month in the United States.

May Math Problems

1. The Empire State Building officially opened in 1931. Lennox’s grandmother is 83 years old. Was she alive when the Empire State Building first opened?

2. In the U.K., May is National Smile Month. Laura has had braces on for 2 1/2 years. Her friend Kylie has had them on for 27 months. How many years has Kylie had them on for? Who has had braces on for longer?

3. The zodiac signs that fall during May are Taurus and Gemini. There is a room full of 24 people who are only either a Taurus or a Gemini. There are twice as many people who are Tauruses than Geminis. How many people are Tauruses, and how many are Gemini?

4. May’s birthstone is the emerald. Ryder wants to buy jewelry for his girlfriend, but he is on a budget. An emerald necklace is $500, but is 20% off. An emerald bracelet is $395, with no additional discount. Which is less expensive?

5. In the United States, May is National Golf Month. Julie and Jacob are playing 18-hole mini-golf near Menlo Park, and have just finished their 12th hole. What fraction of the course have they finished? What percentage?

We hope that these fun facts helped your children learn something new, and that these math problems provided some challenging fun! We hope that you all enjoy a terrific May in Menlo Park with your family. We at the Mathnasium of Palo Alto-Menlo Park are particularly looking forward to a math-filled May full of working with your children. For more fun ways to learn math, visit The Mathnasium of Palo Alto-Menlo Park.

Surviving the Last Month of School in Menlo Park

May is here, and your child only has around one month of school left before it’s time for summer vacation! This is a very exciting time at school in Menlo Park; teachers often lighten workloads, the weather grows perfect for outdoor activities during recess and lunch, and students are getting pumped up for fun plans during the upcoming break. And it’s all well-deserved: students have been working very hard and trying their best all year in school.

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At the same time, however, parents want to make sure that their child is still paying attention and doing well during this final stretch of the academic year. We at the Mathnasium of Palo Alto-Menlo Park completely empathize with this concern, and want to help your children succeed beyond just their math grade. Below are 3 tips that will help your child successfully round out the school year on track.

1. Have a schedule established. Work out an agreed schedule with your children so that they clearly know what time is reserved for having fun and what time is reserved for doing schoolwork. Write this schedule down and put it on the refrigerator.

2. Stay involved in school. Kids can often pull back on their school-related extracurriculars toward the end of the year; some kids might stop going to sports practice, or quit a club they were previously in. Make sure they stick to their commitments at school! Remind them why and how much they enjoy doing them in the first place.

3. Get together with friends. Because they’re so close to summer, students may shift their focus toward more social-oriented activities, such as hanging out with friends. Have them achieve the best of both worlds by creating study groups with their friends! This way, they still get the social interaction that they crave while simultaneously working toward an academic goal.

We hope that these tips will help your child balance schooltime and playtime. Whether we’re preparing your kids for mid-year finals or helping them get ready over the summer for what’s to come, we always thoroughly enjoy working with your children at the center! For more fun ways to learn math, visit The Mathnasium of Palo Alto-Menlo Park.

Wrapping Up April in Palo Alto

April is coming to a close, and summer is just around the corner. Here in Palo Alto, we’re lucky to still have relatively mild, nice weather even as we cruise further down the year — no heat waves for us! It’s been a great month, and we at the Mathnasium of Palo Alto-Menlo Park wanted to celebrate and wrap up April on this blog with ten interesting facts on everything from its name to its place in history. Hopefully, your child hasn’t heard all of these before and learns something new!

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Awesome April Facts

1. The birthstone for April is the diamond.

2. The zodiac signs for April are Aries (March 21st – April 19th) and Taurus (April 20th – May 20th).

3. The birth flower of April is either the sweet pea or the daisy.

4. April is Mathematics Awareness Month !!!

5. April is also Global Child Nutrition Month.

6. April is also Global Jazz Awareness Month.

7. April 1st is April Fools’ Day, which has been celebrated unofficially worldwide since the 19th century.

8. Four U.S. Presidents were born, and four died, during the month of April.

9. The first Olympics of the modern era began in Athens, Greece on April 6th, 1896.

10. On April 12th, 1981, the first space shuttle flight occurred; Columbia launched with astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen aboard. They spent 54 hours in space before landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

It’s been a fantastic month working with your children each week! We’re hoping that May is filled with equally as much joy, love, and hard work. For more fun ways to learn math, visit The Mathnasium of Palo Alto-Menlo Park.

Board Game Fun in Atherton

Board games have long been a fun activity for children, families, and even adults. They are especially beloved by parents due to the fact that while they are entertaining and interesting, they are also often challenging and mind-stretching. Thus, they can be both exciting and beneficial for children both at home and in their Atherton schools.

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Some popular board games, such as Monopoly and Connect 4, are known around the world by most. These aren’t the only ones that exist, though. We at the Mathnasium of Palo Alto-Menlo Park wish to introduce you to a few fun math- and numbers-centered board games that you and your kids can try together at home in Atherton. If any these sound interesting, make sure to have your children come out to our Sunday Game Nights, where we have a wide array of these and similar games available!

1. Mathopoly — like Monopoly, but with math questions for every turn.

2. Sum Swamp — tests kids’ basic addition and subtraction skills. They must add and subtract to get to the swamp!

3. Equate — like Scrabble, but with equations.

4. Pay Day — Get paid and decide how to spend your money. Whoever has the most money remaining at the end of the game wins.

5. Rummikub — tests kids’ color and number matching skills using tiles.

We hope these inspired you to think about more engaging games to play with your child, and that you try out at least one of these games! Once again, make sure to send your child to at least one of our exciting themed Sunday Game Nights for similar activities. For more fun ways to learn math, visit The Mathnasium of Palo Alto-Menlo Park.

Math for Palo Alto Bakers

Baking is a beloved hobby of many, one that has both an enjoyable process and result! Who doesn’t like creating sweet treats? What most people don’t realize, however, is just how much math goes into baking. It’s a precise art, one that requires mastery of fractions, units of measurement, and time. We at the Mathnasium of Palo Alto-Menlo Park wanted to share a relatively simple yet delicious springtime recipe for coconut lemon cupcakes that you and your children can make at home in Palo Alto together! They can practice their math skills by measuring ingredients out and timing the oven.

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Ingredients for the cake:

  • 3 cups self-rising flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup soft butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 & 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Paper cupcake liners

Ingredients for the frosting:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup reduced coconut milk, room temperature
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt


1. Reducing the coconut milk: Open one can of milk and pour it into a medium sized skillet. Heat to a boil, then reduce to low heat. Cook for about 25-30 minutes, or until your milk has reduced to about half. Place in the refrigerator to cool.

2. Making the cupcakes: Whisk together flour and salt in a small bowl. In another small bowl, smash together the sugar with your zest. Cream together your butter and zested sugar for 3 minutes. Scrape the sides of your bowl, and then add the eggs along with the vanilla. Stir in the lemon juice. Alternate between the flour and milk, pouring each into your egg mixture slowly. Scrape the side of the bowl, and give it one last good mix.

3. Baking the cupcakes: Line muffin tins with paper liners. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Fill each cupcake liner 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 15-20 minutes. The cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Then place your cupcakes on a cooling rack.


4. Making the frosting: Cream together your butter and powdered sugar. Add the vanilla extract, coconut milk, and salt. Whip until the desired consistency has formed.

5. Spread the coconut frosting onto the lemon cupcakes. Enjoy!

We at the Mathnasium of Palo Alto-Menlo Park hope you and your child enjoy this recipe! For more fun ways to learn math, visit The Mathnasium of Palo Alto-Menlo Park.


April Showers in Menlo Park

Happy April, Menlo Park! Now that we’re well into spring, the Menlo Park weather is nice and sunny, and flowers are blooming like crazy. A popular adage tossed around during this time is “April showers bring May flowers.” Sure, it sounds nice, but what exactly does this saying mean and how did it come about?

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This saying is based behind the fact that April is traditionally a rainy period in many areas of the world. Flowers in May are then attributed to the heavier rain and storms of April. The proverb was first recorded in 1886 in a slightly different form: “Sweet April showers do spring May flowers.” This originated from a poem written in 1610. Nowadays, we don’t just use the saying for its literal meaning–it is also often used as an expression to convey that a period of suffering or discomfort can lead to happiness and joy later on.

We at the Mathnasium of Palo Alto-Menlo Park want to provide your child with a few fun April showers-themed math problems to try. Hopefully they’re a challenge!

1. Menlo Park gets an average of 18 inches of rain per year. How many feet is that, in a simplified fraction?

2. Palo Alto gets 1.75 feet of rain per year. How many more inches is that than Menlo Park’s average?

3. Sarah and Tim both have jobs making flower bouquets at a florist’s shop. Sarah can make 3 bouquets an hour, and Tim can make 5 bouquets an hour. How long will it take them to make 45 bouquets if they work at the same time?

We wish you and your family a very happy April! For more fun ways to learn math, visit The Mathnasium of Palo Alto-Menlo Park.

Beating Second Semester Slump in Palo Alto

Second semester is well underway for those of us in the Palo Alto area. Although it’s exciting because it signals that students are one step closer to summer, second semester can be a time during which students’ motivation and focus drop. A combination of beautiful, Palo Alto-spring weather and the promise of summer break can add up to a drop in grades, performance, or behavior in school. We at the Mathnasium of Menlo Park certainly don’t want that to happen to any of our students! Furthermore, we know that it is a preventable phenomenon. Here are 3 tips and tricks to share with your child–they’ve been tried and true in fighting against the second semester slump.

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1. Plan. Extracurriculars, family events, and schoolwork can pile up and get too messy without some organized form of scheduling and planning! Whether it is writing in a planner, putting sticky notes on a calendar, or creating to-do lists via online applications such as Google Keep, your child can really benefit from using some sort of organizational method. This way, they can easily see all that they have to do in their busy lives and keep track of both what’s been done and what there is left to do.

2. Exercise. While this may not seem the most intuitive, exercise helps keep both the body and the mind charged up and active, especially if your child is feeling unmotivated or sluggish during second semester. It’s been proven that getting daily exercise helps with performance in all other aspects of life! There are plenty of beautiful, well-maintained parks and streets in and surrounding Palo Alto, so go with your child on a run or take them out for a game of basketball.

3. Ask for help. If your child has been struggling in school during second semester, have them meet up with their teachers or counselor for a quick chat. They’re there to help–and who would know more about your child’s classes and grades? They will definitely understand the second semester slump, and would be more than happy to help your child with managing their workload and stress.

We at the Mathnasium of Palo Alto-Menlo Park hope that these tips will help prevent–or at the very least, manage–that dreaded second semester slump. We hope that being at Mathnasium each week helps them feel more motivated to learn and do well in at least one subject! For more fun ways to learn math, visit The Mathnasium of Palo Alto-Menlo Park.

Atherton’s First Week of Spring

Monday, March 20th is the official first day of spring this year, marked by the spring equinox. This means that now, spring is finally here! We at the Mathnasium of Palo Alto-Menlo Park have been looking forward to a new season, and are very excited for the start of this one.

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With spring comes mental images of colorful flowers, warm sunshine, and new life. Atherton in particular, with its extraordinarily pleasant weather, is sure to be beautiful during this time of year. With better weather, it is going to be so nice to get outside and do outdoor activities. Whether it’s walking the dog, going on hikes, or simply enjoying a picnic in one of Atherton’s spacious city parks, there are plenty of fun outdoor activities for you and your child to enjoy more often during spring.

We at the Mathnasium of Palo Alto-Menlo Park wanted to add to the excitement of spring by adding some knowledge. There are tons of interesting, historical, and just plain wacky facts about spring that everyone should know–and we’d like to share some with you. Below are 5 cool facts about and relating to the season. Share them widely with your children, family, and friends!

1. The first day of spring is known as the spring equinox, otherwise known as the vernal equinox. The term vernal is Latin for “spring,” and equinox is Latin for “equal night.”

2. The first day of spring in the Southern Hemisphere is actually the first day of fall in the Northern Hemisphere.

3. The early Egyptians built the Great Sphinx so that it would point directly toward the rising sun on the spring equinox.

4. The reason birds chirp more often and loudly during the spring is that they are attempting to attract mates.

5. According to Greek mythology, the start of spring each year coincides with the return of Persephone, the goddess of plants and fertility.

We hope that you enjoyed this interesting trivia, and that you and your family have a thrilling spring! We’re unbelievably excited to be working with your kids for another season this year. For more fun ways to learn math, visit The Mathnasium of Palo Alto-Menlo Park.

Math Fun For Saint Patrick’s Day in Portola Valley

It’s almost Saint Patrick’s Day! Although it originates in Ireland, this holiday is still widely celebrated in Portola Valley, and the United States as a whole, as well. In fact, Saint Patrick’s day is celebrated in more countries worldwide than any other national festival! It is held each year on March 17th, the date that marks the death of Saint Patrick, the foremost patron saint of Ireland.

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In Ireland, celebrations generally involve public parades and festivals, ceilithe (traditional Irish music sessions), and the wearing of green attire and shamrocks. On this day, Christians will also attend church services, and the Lenten restrictions on consumption of food and alcohol are lifted.

While it isn’t an actual legal holiday in the United States, Saint Patrick’s Day is still widely celebrated across the country and has been since the late 18th century. People in Portola Valley and around the country generally do things such as wear green, go to church, attend parades, consume alcohol, and celebrate Irish and Irish-American culture. We tend to see a lot of these celebrations occurring in Portola Valley–we hope that if you and your family choose to participate in celebrating this day, you all have a fun yet safe time!

We at the Mathnasium of Palo Alto-Menlo Park wanted to add to the Saint Patrick’s Day fun with 3 exciting math problems for your children to try.

1. A shamrock is a three-leaved clover. If Cassidy cuts out 15 shamrocks from paper, one for each of her friends, how many leaves did she cut out?

2. One legend relating to Saint Patrick’s day is that leprechauns keep their pots of gold at the end of a rainbow. John goes to the end of a rainbow in Atherton and finds a pot of gold! There are 115 pieces of gold inside the giant pot, and each piece of gold is worth $200. How much is the gold he has found worth in total?

3. In the problem above, John’s wallet dropped out of his pants pocket while he was running toward the rainbow. In it was $26. How much NET money has he gained after finding the gold, considering the fact that he lost his wallet?

We hope you have a fantastic Saint Patrick’s Day, if you choose to celebrate! We also hope that your child enjoyed these math problems. For more fun ways to learn math, visit The Mathnasium of Palo Alto-Menlo Park.