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ERIC Number: EJ920855
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Apr
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0025-5769
Flower Power: Sunflowers as a Model for Logistic Growth
Fernandez, Eileen; Geist, Kristi A.
Mathematics Teacher, v104 n8 p580-585 Apr 2011
Logistic growth displays an interesting pattern: It starts fast, exhibiting the rapid growth characteristic of exponential models. As time passes, it slows in response to constraints such as limited resources or reallocation of energy. The growth continues to slow until it reaches a limit, called capacity. When the growth describes a population, "capacity" is defined as "the maximum population that the environment is capable of sustaining in the long run." In this article, the authors describe an approach to studying logistic growth that is accessible to students with a knowledge of spreadsheets. They begin by building on students' knowledge of linear functions to represent the logistic growth rate algebraically. Then they use a spreadsheet design by Neuwirth and Arganbright (2004) to model logistic growth and apply the design in studying the average height of a field of sunflowers. They chose to study sunflowers because sunflowers grow to a tall-enough height--8 feet--in a manageable period of time, and thus their growth can be displayed in a manageable number of spreadsheet rows. Finally, the authors provide a related activity for students with calculus backgrounds, thus connecting their work to that appearing in calculus textbooks. (Contains 7 figures.)
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. 1906 Association Drive, Reston, VA 20191-1502. Tel: 800-235-7566; Tel: 703-620-3702; Fax: 703-476-2970; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: High Schools
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A