Rhodes University
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Video 3: What is the best shape for bees to store honey in a honey comb?

Version 2 2020-09-20, 18:38
Version 1 2020-09-20, 18:28
posted on 2020-09-20, 18:38 authored by Ingrid Schudel
Intended audience: Year three primary school teachers and learners

This video is designed to help primary learners to wonder at the use of hexagons for making bee honey comb as an example of how we can see mathematics and unexpected order in nature. This is a fun way of introducing young learners to the honeycomb conjecture – a mathematical problem that has been challenging mathematicians for years. By building and filling different 3D prisms, learners learn about 3D shapes, the 2D shapes that make these up and are able to compare volumes and tessellation possibility between these shapes. Templates for the 3D shapes are included below this video .

The video is linked to the school curriculum in the following ways:

• Mathematics: Volume/capacity. In pre-school teachers are directed to encourage play with sand and water and different size containers exploring the concepts of more than and less than and ordering containers according to increasing capacity (the beginnings of understanding volume). By Grade 3 they are expected to use informal measurement such as number of cups, or number of spoons needed to fill a container. In this video learners can use informal measurement, count the number of lines on the measuring cylinder or actually read numbers on the cylinder if they have reached that level of counting.
• Mathematics: Tessellation. At Grade 3 learners are simply expected to know how different shapes fit together to make patterns. This will prepare them for understanding tesselation at higher Grades.
• Mathematics: Shapes. By Grade 3 learners need to know
* circles, triangles, squares, rectangles – we extend somewhat here by introducing hexagons
* how 3D shapes are made up of 2D shapes
* the difference between a cylinder and a rectangular prism – we extend this by elaborating 3 types of rectangular prism … triangular, square and hexagonal. Higher grades could also include an octagonal prism
• Life Skills: Science: Learning about insects

Resourcing this activity.
• Templates for supporting this activity – what is important is that each shape is made from the same length strip of carboard as the strip of cardboard represents a strip of wax. For a fair test we must use the same amount of wax to make each shape.
• How to adapt? You can use sand instead of the coloured salt crystals that we have used and any cardboard can be used and painted if you like. If you cannot get hold of a measuring cylinder, any narrow transparent container can be used (there is another video in this series which teaches you how to make a cylinder).