The Biological World

The Biological World provides opportunities to apply mathematics to human physiology and health, botany, zoology, and ecology.

Solving problems from human physiology and health often requires collecting and analyzing data, using statistical concepts, making measurements, and applying ratio and proportion and percents in the analysis of data.    

  • What are the nutritional values of school lunches? 
  • What kinds of growth in heights do students undergo during a school year?

Exploring questions from botany can lead to applying mathematical topics from geometry, probability, measurement, and statistics. 

  • What are characteristics of leaves that grow on the outer parts of an oak tree versus those that grow on the inner parts of the tree? 
  • What can genetics reveal about the colors of the kernels of the offspring of Indian corn?  

Zoology presents opportunities to make measurements; to use proportional reasoning; to collect, organize, and interpret data; and to develop hypotheses or theories. 

  • What can be learned about animals from the imprints their feet make on a soft surface? 
  • What is the nutritional value of a locust?  
  • What are the differences between Africanized or “killer” bees and European honeybees? 

Ecology has become a very important science in environmental studies, and mathematical topics are essential in drawing conclusions from those studies. 

  • How are matrices and matrix operations used to explore the effects on the animal food chain of an ecosystem in which a wildfire has destroyed the grasses?   
  • What can mathematical models predict about the reproduction rates of animals in an ecosystem? 
  • How can mathematical chaos help to explain the difficulties of reintroducing an endangered species into the wild?