Math found in Strange Places

April 19, 2018

Mathspig was walking down a street in her home town, Melbourne, when she came across this Street Art piece on a wall of an auto-repair shop in Lygon St, Brunswick.

She nearly did a backflip with mathematical joy.

Fibonacci Rules!!!!!!!



April 16, 2018


There are 10 math questions

(pdf version and pdf ans below).

The boxed sections are keyboard math symbol shortcuts.

When the students push these keys the Qs finally make sense.

eg. option v = square root sign


1. They must have a computer with a KEYBOARD (not a tablet)

2. The computer must be a MAC*

*Mathspig tried to find the QWERTY Math shortcuts on her old PC and it went crazy!!!! 

QWerty Math for MAC pdf

Qwerty Math for MAC ANS


Sasha a little dog with a BIG, BIG ID Number!

March 28, 2018

This exercise works best if for homework the middle school students count the digits in their own cell phone, passport, bill code or some other number. They don’t have to show the passport or bill. They just have to count the digits.


Amazing Maths Clock

March 17, 2018

Albert Digital Mathematical clocks are fascinating.

You calculate the time using +, -, x and ÷ . Such fun and ideal for the math classroom.

Mathspig found the Albert Mathematical clock at the Horsham International Hotel (below).

More info on the Albert Digital Clock here.

You can set the level of difficulty. You get 1 minute to work out the answer and that’s long enough.


And the Oscar for Best Mathematical Performance Goes to …..

March 5, 2018


And the Oscar for Best Mathematical Performance Goes to …..

Ben Zauzmer

Ben Zauzmer, a Harvard Applied Math graduate who has a 75 per cent success rate in predicting the winners of Oscar Awards every year, has correctly predicted 20 of 21 winners in 2018 Oscars, which is a success rate of 95%. 

How does he do it? He gathers thousands of data points on Oscar ceremonies over the past two decades – such as categories movies are nominated in, other award results, and aggregate critic scores – and he uses statistics to calculate how good a predictor each of those metrics is in each Oscar category. Then, he plugs in the numbers and that gives him the % chance that each film will win in each category according to  the Boston Globe.

Ben, who writes for The Hollywood Reporter, uses his mathematical model to produce  Bar Graphs like this:

This year the Best Picture was a close call, but Ben’s Mathematical Prediciton was correct.  


Winter Olympics: Bad Math of Figure Skating Scores

February 22, 2018

According to the fab NBC video, Mathletes,  nine Figure Skating judges score competitors for the complexity of each element (eg. Triple axel or triple spin jump) and the quality of the performance producing a score out of ten.

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir win GOLD at Pyeong Chang 2018

                                   Kailani Craine, Australia

figure skating score 9 judges nbclearn

This is a typical figure skating score card for one competitor.

The final score, however, is based  on the average for only 5 of these scores. Two are eliminated by random selection (Red Brackets). Then the top and bottom scores are removed and the remaining five scores averaged.

Screen grab NBC Mathletes

Screen grab NBC Mathletes



of Skater A & B:

figure skating score A

Skater A:

Four scores are removed. Two by the random selector (in brackets) and then the top and bottom scores (with line drawn through them)

7.00 + 7.00 + 7.00 + 6.75 + 7.00


=  34.75/ 5 = 6.95

figure skating score B

Skater B:

Four scores are removed. Two by the random selector (in brackets) and then the top and bottom scores (with line drawn through them). But this time the random selector eliminates two low scores.

The average:

7.00 + 7.25 + 7.00 + 7.00 + 7.00


=  35.25/ 5 = 7.05

Same score cards but Skater B gets a higher average score than Skater A.

Skater A is, in fact, beaten by a random number selector!!!!


WINTER OLYMPICS: How ski Jumpers Use Math to Increase their Jump Length

February 16, 2018

While air resistance has little impact on aerial skiers it is a significant factor used by ski jumpers to increase their jump distance.

The significant maths for ski jumpers is therefore X-section area.

Here is the jump at Pyeong Chang, 2018. Just imagine going down that at top speed!!!

              A ski jumper is set to jump in Pyeongchang.

                   Casey Larson USA Pyeong chang 2018

Ski jumpers increase their speed going down the ramp by reducing their X-section area:

Lindsey Van, USA, practicing in a wind tunnel

           Lindsey Van, USA, practicing in a wind tunnel

Once they leave the ramp, ski jumpers try to increase their X-section area like Ski Divers to slow their vertical fall. But they have to land safely so they keep their skis at a minimum  angle.

Abby Hughes, USA, practicing in a wind tunnel.

Abby Hughes, USA, practicing in a wind tunnel.

Abby Hughes, USA, in the air

          Abby Hughes, USA, in the air

Here are the X-section areas for Abby Hughes*:

Abby Hughes X-section

Here is the formula for Air Resistance of Drag:

D = ½CApv2

Where C is the drag coefficient or constant, which depends on the shape and spin of an object. It is found by testing the object in a wind tunnel.

A is the X-section Area,

p is the density of the air and

v the velocity of the object.

More here.

As Abby Hughes has tripled here X-section area in the air she will have tripled the vertical drag during her jump. This will slow here decent.

*Mathspig calculated the X-section area by the old fashioned method of counting squares and rounding off the final count. Mathspig sized the two pics of Abby Huges so that her head was the same size in both pictures.