civilization

CIVILIZATION — take care of it — it will take care of you

Anno’s Magic Seeds

Anno’s Magic Seeds, by Mitsumasa Anno, tells a story about seeds, their patterns of growth, and the consequences of different choices.

This beautiful story is unfortunately out of print. However, you will find readings of it on Youtube.

Here is a summary of the first 8 pages of the story:

  • The Wizard gives Jack 2 magic seeds.
  • Jack eats 1 seed, which magically means he won’t be hungry for 1 year.
  • He plants the other seed in the ground, which at the end of the year gives him 2 new seeds.
  • He eats 1 and plants the other.
  • He gets 2 new seeds at the end of the year.
  • He eats 1 and plants the other.
  • And this pattern continues for several years.

Complete this table to record the number of seeds in each of 5 years.

Table that shows:
Year | Seeds at start of year | Seeds eaten | Seeds Planted

Here is a summary of pages 9-14 of the story:

  • Jack decides to try something different.
  • The next year, Jack plants both seeds, and finds something else to eat for the year.
  • The 2 seeds give him 4 new seeds.
  • He eats 1 and plants the other 3.
  • He gets 6 new seeds at the end of the year.
  • He eats 1 and plants the rest.
  • And this pattern continues for several years.

Complete the table below to record the number of seeds in each of next 10 years.

Civilization

Here is what Mitsumasa Anno wrote at the end of his book, Anno’s Magic Seeds:

A long, long time ago, human beings learned to grow plants for their food and other needs. They sowed seeds in the ground and fertilized them; they protected their growing plants from harmful birds and insects. They prayed to God for rain. And when their harvest produced more food than they needed, commerce and trade began, and calculating and bargaining and other things we may think as typical of civilization.

What did you learn?

What did you learn about civilization?

  • What surprised you?
  • What math insights did you experience?

Share your learning with others, so they can experience math surprise and insight as well.

Thanks to the Ontario Tech University STEAM-3D Research Lab for sharing this activity from their ORF-funded project!