Last Monday, coinciding with World Mathematics Day, the Mathematicians’ Garden was inaugurated around CITE III. It is an interactive design in which different mathematical concepts are represented by one or more plants and a metal sculpture. The plants are accompanied by a poster with QR codes that link to a botanical and a mathematical explanation.
Since last Monday, coinciding with World Mathematics Day, Almeria has had a botanical garden that is unique in the world and is located on the UAL campus, in the area around the CITE III building. It is the Mathematicians’ Garden. A unique design in which different mathematical concepts are represented by one or more plants and an architectural sculpture.
In its design have participated the Center for Scientific Collections of the UAL (CECOAL), especially Azucena Laguía and Manuel Sánchez, the Faculty of Experimental Sciences, the Department of Mathematics and ETB Architectural Bronze.
The Vice Rector for Sports, Sustainability and Healthy University, Javier Lozano, explained that with this garden they meet two objectives of the Strategic Plan of the UAL 2022-2025: “to provide infrastructure at the service of people with sustainability as a principle, and to transform our campus into a friendly, sustainable and safe workplace”. He has also pointed out that the garden responds to the objective of “leaving a better university for the following generations; improving the integral satisfaction of the student; improving the contribution of the UAL to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); improving physical spaces and visual environments for university life and achieving a sustainable campus and improving the commitment of the university community to sustainability”.
CECOUAL has been in charge of the design and landscaping, adapting the space and carrying out the planting to achieve the functional and aesthetic objectives. Its director, Esther Giménez, has indicated that from the Collections Center they have been working in botanical gardens since 2016 as the Salt Garden, the Water Garden or the Experimental Biocostras. “A botanical garden is more than an ornamental garden, its objectives are several such as conservation, research, teaching, education and tourism.” In the case of the UAL “they have plants of the arid and semi-arid of the world, with special attention to our territory”.
In conservation they work with plants that may be threatened; in research they work with plants in lines such as taxonomy, ecology or germination; in teaching they do it by serving to complete subjects of various degrees, not only Environmental Sciences, such as Mathematics, Chemistry, History. In education, they work to raise awareness of the protection of biodiversity and the transmission of natural heritage, and in tourism, botanical gardens are an important attraction for many visitors. An example of this is the Water Garden of the UAL, which has received numerous visits in recent summers.
Azucena Laguía, responsible for the design of the garden and the execution of the botanical part, explained the relationship between plants and mathematics. “Plants are mathematics. They make calculations to know how much food they have to produce or what is the maximum height they have to reach; they apply calculations to know how much water they have to absorb; and as they grow, they can generate amazingly regular and complex geometric shapes. In addition, many of them are related to the Fionacci sequence and the golden ratio”.
There are some mathematical models that describe a good part of the different behaviors of plants and this garden presents some of them. The garden is divided into different parts and each one corresponds to a mathematical concept: Fractal, Spiral, Helix, Golden Angles, Fibonacci sequence, Golden Number, Geometric, Rosette Conchoid and Symmetries.
Each plant has its corresponding QR poster that will link to the UAL Herbarium website, where all the botanical characteristics of the plant are explained, as well as a mathematical QR that links to the website developed by the Faculty of Experimental Sciences and the Department of Mathematics that explains the mathematical characteristics.
“It is an interactive garden that helps to develop intelligence, to face challenges, to promote mental agility, to reinforce logical abilities and to learn to see nature from a new perspective”, explained Azucena Laguía. Who also stressed that this garden is part of the educational program of CECOUAL and that there are closed 10 visits to it to work with mathematics and botany.
Juan José Moreno Balcázar, dean of the Faculty of Experimental Science. “At first it seemed somewhat surprising to link two branches such as botany and mathematics, but in the end what we have done both CEOCUAL in botany and the Faculty of Experimental Sciences, together with the Department of Mathematics, is a website that I think is unique in the world. In addition, the garden unites two degrees of our Faculty: Environmental Sciences and Mathematics”.
José Carmona, director of the Department of Mathematics, pointed out that the website on mathematical concepts has a small summary of each concept and there are activities to interact with visitors”. Finally, he expressed his hope that this space “will be enjoyed both by the university community and by society in general, and especially by educational centers”.
Pablo Mellado, responsible for the design and manufacture of the geometric figures, explained that they are made of steel and was pleased to have collaborated in this project. “It is a pride that these sculptures help to spread knowledge and serve to promote mathematics and that young people can see that they can be fun, rather than solving problems.”