Teachers Resource – Nettle Nipping Maths Challenge

One of our favourite activities to do with young people is to show them the wonders of what is around them that they can eat, use or is a medicine/poison. It really opens their eyes to being able to spot useful things in nature – so that they can then apply this lesson to all other areas of their lives to spot opportunities and possibilities.

Maths is a part of everyday life. Helping students to put their maths skills into practice can be really fun. Especially when it gives them a confidence boost to realise that they can do it!

Our nettle nipping challenge combines the thrill of courting danger to pick without getting stung with the challenge of calculating how much you would need to get enough calories for the day.

This video give you a standalone activity to introduce the common stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) alongside calculations, weighing and measuring. You can also use the pdf, which is a two page printout covering the same content.

I’ve had to take the ID section out temporarily to enable it to upload. A youtube link will be here shortly with the full version.

Join in the conversations and follow on ideas in our Teachers Group on Facebook.

Drop back to find out more about this fabulous plant, the following section outlines will have more information and pictures added soon…

Identification points

Nutritional Value

Nettles are a superfood! While most would consider this a weed and a painful inconvenience it is actually a superstar.

Nettles contain a surprising amount of protein for a plant. You can find the most in the leaves but it is also found in the stems and roots. 100g can contain around 7g of protein, however as much as 14g has also been recorded.

It has all of the following vitamins A, C, D, E, F, K, P, and b-complexes as well as niacin, thiamin, vitamin B-6 and riboflavin. Moderate amounts of boron, calcium, chromium, copper, iodine, sodium, and sulfur. But it is especially high in iron, selenium, magnesium and zinc as it is a super absorber of heavy metals. This can be a draw back in heavily polluted areas – good for cleaning up the environment… not so good to eat! Always choose wisely when foraging.

Nettles can be used fresh in juices, teas, soups and salads. It can also be preserved by drying or freeze-drying. Throughout history it has had a place in the cuisine and medicines most regions of the world.


There is a lot of research showing that nettles can be beneficial for arthritis through topical application, management of blood sugar with chemicals similar to insulin for diabetics, and they can also help with seasonal allergies such as hayfever.

Other uses

Stinging nettles are fabulous for making string and cordage as the long outer fibres from the square stems split nicely into four sections. I have a great quiver with a nettle string strap that has lasted over ten years!

Did you know… The Fibonacci sequence can be found in nettles!


All images and activities © Polaris Outdoor. Do get in touch if you’d like to work on a collaboration or would like us to speak at your event.

Leave a Reply