Archive for the ‘homeworkpig’ Category


The Great Maths Scavenger Hunt: The Rules

August 15, 2012

The Great Maths Scavenger Hunt



Teacher Notes


To have fun with maths.

To use lots of different skills

eg. artistic, photographic, performance, comic involving maths

To have something in the challenge for every member of the class not just maths whiz kids.


Week 1

Introduction: Form teams in class time. Give them the Scavenger Hunt Sheets so they can devise their team name and war cry/anthem.

eg. QTπ, The Smart Asymptotes,The Quadratics,The Nerd Herd,Numerators, Number Nutters and The Vulgar FactionGive teams 1 week to gather or create scavenger items.

You will find a complete PDF file of The Great Maths Scavenger Hunt @ the end of the following post, plus a PDF file answer guide.

Week 2:

Students are to bring items to class.

All teams must perform their war cry/anthem. Other performance items should be presented.


Any calculations must be written down. All graphs should be hand drawn.

Teams should then tally their own scores.

Cross check with another team.


The prize will be a dodgy trophy (see pic) that you buy at a Op shop/ secondhand shop.

Rebrand it.

Decorate with hideous ribbons.

And make a fuss. This is Parody Power and everyone is in on the joke.

The trophy should be awarded with great fanfare.

Perhaps, you could include a fanfare like this.

Mrs Yurconic math blog

Student Sheets

The Great Maths Scavenger Hunt student sheets follow.


Student Name:. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                       Grade:. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Team Name:. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Date Due:. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  

Team Members:. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Team War Cry / Anthem:

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* Team: 2 – 4 members

* Aim: Teams score points for weird scavenger challenges.

* Each team must create a fun maths-themed name and team war cry/song.

* Scavenger Challenges: There are 4 Scavenger Challenge groups:

1. Maths Survivor

2. So You Think You can Add!

3. The Great Maths Race

4. The X Squared Factor.

* Points earned from each group are in order: 1, 1¼, 2 ½ and 4⅓.

* Teams must produce a minimum of 2 objects/creations from each group (Maximums shown below)

* Teams can get as much help as they like from anyone

  crazy enough to help them.

* The highest score wins the glorious

    Great Maths Scavenger Hunt Trophy as shown (above), but uglier.


1 Maths Survivor:

August 15, 2012


Challenge 1:

The Great Maths Scavenger Hunt


Students complete 2 challenges @ 1 point each: Minimum of 2, Maximum of 8


 1 Maths Survivor:

* A cm/inch ruler

* Maths fridge magnet (not just X)

* Graph from a newspaper

* 16 fl oz cup

* Digital Scales kg or lb

* Mechanical Scales kg or lb

* Old Balance scales with weights (2 points)

* Scientific Balance Scales with gram weights (3 points)

* Log Tables

* Mechanical Tyre Pressure Gauge (1 bonus point to name the pressure unit)

* Protractor

* What is the National Standard for the height of a table and a chair?

* A maths badge

* A Times Tables Wall Chart

* Kids Wooden Blocks with Numbers

* Any board game that uses maths (eg. Snakes & Ladders)

* Pantyhose weight Vs Height Chart

* Bart Simpson Maths Saying written 20 times

* $1 million Monopoly Money

* List Ten Maths Movies (eg. Could be about a mathematician)

* Packet 1-minute oats that takes 2 minutes to cook.

* Product 99% fat free

* An exercise book with tables, length, area and volume conversion charts on the back cover.

* Any packet with use by date expired by one month.

* Newspaper or magazine pie chart

* Box of Cuisenaire rods.

* A statue of any mathematician.

* A key ring with a mini calculator.

* A maths coffee mug




2. So You Think You can Add!

August 15, 2012

Challenge 2:

The Great Maths Scavenger Hunt


Students must complete 2 challenges @ 1¼ points each: Minimum of 2, Maximum of 5


2. So You Think You can Add!: 

* How many round-cut 8 carat diamonds will cover top of an A4 sheet?

* How many human hairs would cover the back of your (Werewolf) hand including your fingers assuming 200 hairs per square cm or 1,290 hairs per square inch.

* A set of scales in Stone. How heavy is a stone?

* Measure the length of your kiss in cm or inches. Show picture.

* Bring a slide rule. Show how to calculate 100 x 10.

* A pair of 40 denier tights. What is a denier?

* A t-shirt with π on the front

* How many golf balls would go around the equator? Diameter of golf ball= 43 mm

* Picture of a human Pentagon

* Arithmetic Progression of Stamps worth: 5c, 10c, 15c, 20c, 25 c and 30c.

* Picture of you calculating the angle of a pair of high heels using a cardboard triangle.

* Write the mirror image of every number from 1 – 20.

* Freeze three types of triangle into a cube of ice each.

* Bring in 3 size 24 buttons. What is the diameter of a size 24 button?

* Car batteries are labelled 12V but are more likely 12.6 volts. Plot a graph of % charge remaining Vs Voltage (V). You’ll find info here.

* If you buy an $120,000 Boxter Porsche and it depreciates in value by 25% annually, how much will it be worth when it is 1, 2, 3 and 4 years old? More info here.

* In 2012 Usain Bolt had earned $20 million up until the Olympic Games mostly through endorsements. He ran a total of 400m (100 m, 200m and 4x100m relay). How much does the fastest man on earth earn per m and, more interestingly, per second? Why is the relay faster per leg than the 100m sprint?

* An old maths exam paper of a parent or grand parent or a school ruler with their name on it. (Must be old)

* How many large cracked eggs would it take to fill a 50-litre rubbish bin?

* What does 24 carat gold mean? Write 24, 18 and 12 carat gold in fractions.

* If Usain Bolt could keep up his 100m-sprint speed, how long would it take for him to finish the marathon? How long would it take him to get to school from your place? Include map showing your route to school.

* Draw a skateboard deck width Vs skater height graph. Info here.



3.The Great Maths Race

August 15, 2012

Challenge 3:

The Great Maths Scavenger Hunt


Students must complete 2 challenges @ 2 ½ points each: Minimum of 2 challenges, Maximum of 4 challenges.


3.The Great Maths Race

* Make a protractor Anemometer and calculate the current wind speed. Conversion Chart here.

* Bring a sextant

*  The Brix number is used to measure sweetness. One degree Brix is 1 gram of sucrose in 100 grams of solution. What would the Brix number be for orange juice, Gatorade and coke? You will need to know the sugar content in gm for each drink ( Look here) and the volume of a coke can or bottle.

* Make a poster using maths symbols going off at a tangent.

*  Your growth chart for 10-year period.

* Width of the front of the school block in toilet paper sheets. You will find some handy measurements here.

* Bake a π pie



* Cook a Fibonacci cake

* Bring in a mock up poster (in waste paper) of all paper sizes from A8 to A0.

* How much do we spend per person each year on toilet paper? You will find information @ toilet paper fun facts. Yes! There is a Toilet Paper Fun Facts website.  We use an average of 57 sheets each per year and, say, a toilet roll has 350 sheets. You will have to price the toilet rolls.

* Prove 1 + 1 = 2 in the most complicated way you can.

* Demonstrate Pythagoras Theorem using Saltine crackers.

* Develop a maths clap chant. Team must teach clap chant to class.

* Make potato stamps of the surds: √2, √3 and √5 and stamp an equation.

* Use bubble gum to demonstrate the parabola to the class of y = x2

* Make an Origami Pentagon from a square

* Make a (with clothes on) photo of yourself as Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man.

* Make Pascal’s Triangle using jellybeans or rice grains

* If your hair kept growing at the average rate of 0.04 cm per day, how long would it take to reach the same length/height as you? Show calculations.

* Make a poster of Bernoulli’s Triangle 20 lines long.

* The fastest remote controlled car on earth, so they say, is the Traxxas XO-1, which goes from 0-62mph ( 0 – 99 kph) in just 2.3 seconds and can hit 100mph (160 kph) in less than five seconds. How long would it take for the remote controlled car to travel to your nearest Macdonald’s and return with fries at 62 mph and 100mph? Print out a map.

*  Research the height and weight of 10 famous ballerinas and plot these statistics on a height Vs weight chart. Is there a mathematical pattern?

* If a kangaroo can hop at 25 kph (15.5 mph), how long would it take to hop across the middle of Australia E to W?



4. The X Squared Factor

August 15, 2012

Challenge 4:

The Great Maths Scavenger Hunt


Students must complete 2 challenges @ 4points each. No additional challenges allowed.


4. The X Squared Factor

* Make an origami soccer ball

* Video of a pile of Lego sorting into a Venn Diag of shape, colour and bumps

*  Fill a matchbox full of rice. How many grains? How many grains of rice to fill an Olympic swimming pool?

*  Learn π to 20 places then annoy everyone. No. Just demonstrate this skill.

* Devise a way to simply measure the volume of a set of keys. (Go Archimedes Go)

*  Toast the area of a piece of toast into the toast.

* Draw a simple picture of mathematician on graph paper. Write the co-ordinates of major points [eg. (2,5), (5, 7) etc] in order so that someone else can redraw the picture without seeing it. Test it.

*  How many corn flakes are there in a 750gm box?

* Trap yourself inside a Matrix. Full points for most creative effort.

*  Give a 3-minute humorous talk on why fractions are vulgar.

* Devise a method to calculate the speed of ants around your house or the school. Now calculate the time it would take for an ant to finish the 100m Olympic sprint.

* Demonstrate n! from n = 1 to n = 10 in Lego blocks

* Bring in an Abacus and demonstrate how you multiply 96 x 72.

* Find the minimum aeroplane seat width @ Seatguru for British Air, Qantas and American airlines. Now calculate how many seats these airlines could fit across your couch @ home.

*Rewrite the 12 Days of Christmas Carol with maths terms. Sing in woollie hat and scarf to class.

* Sing the 7 times table to the class Opera Style.

* There are 1,070 dimples on a golf ball. The diameter of a golf ball is 4.3 cm. How many dimples per square cm? The diameter of a tennis ball is 6.9 cm, how many dimples would fit on a tennis ball?

* How many slices of bread to cover your country? How many loaves? You will find size and links here.  A pre-sliced loaf of supermarket bread is approx 10 cm by 11 cm.

* A large tube of toothpaste is 4.2 oz or 119 gm. What length of toothpaste squeezed in a straight line could you squeeze out of that tube?

* How much air is in an Aero? This can be calculated. By weight and by volume.

* How many 100s & 1000s or sprinkles or jimmies are there on average on top of a cup cake? Make an equation (That’s algebra, folks) using symbols made of sprinkles on cupcakes. Bring to class. They will be eaten.

* Rewrite Some of My Favourite Things from the sound of music using only maths terms. You can make clothes out of curtains or use old clothes and felt markers and whatever grabs your imagination to make a maths tie/skirt/shirt/hat to sing the song to the class.

* What is the probability that a peanut butter sandwich will land peanut butter if you get a fright and throw it in the air? Show trial numbers.

* How many channels can you surf in a 20 second period? If you had to get up off the couch, walk to the TV set, push a button and return to the couch, how long would it take to surf that many channels? Yeah! Like in the olden days.

* Make a complex tessellation using Cuisenaire rods or potato stamps you have carved. (Diagram below is not a tessellation but nice potato stamp art.)

Here are the The Great Maths Scavenger Hunt PDF files: The Great Maths Scavenger Hunt

Here are the answer guidelines: The Great Maths Scavenger Hunt Answers


9. How not to do Homework

August 3, 2011






HOMEWORK: Fun and Entertainment for the Whole Family





Go to Mathspig Post on Homework.

Read out My Homework Diary to all of your classes.


12 minute Maths Guru

July 4, 2011

Meet Salman Khan. He has put free maths on-line.

This article on Salman appeared in The Sunday Times, UK, 12 JUN 2011.

Salman, 28, started putting tutes online for his 12-year-old niece, Nadia, and things grew. So far the Kahn Academy’s claim to fame are:

* Over 2,400 videos including hundreds and hundreds of 12-minute maths tutes

* Over 63,000,000 lessons delivered.

* Bill Gates kids use the site.

* A staff of 1 with funding from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

* Tutes on Biology, Chemistry and Physics too.

You can look up the maths tutes by topic @ The Khan Academy.

Or search topics on Youtube eg. Introduction to Conics Khan

Why Does Mathspig like The Kahn Academy? Because it’s:

1. Free.

2. Quick

3. Clear

4. Low-key







Salman gives digital chalk-and-talk tutes like a teacher. He hand draws the equations and graphs. He uses a calculator from time to time, but he tends not to use whizz bang spreadsheet graphs or perfectly presented textbook equations. It’s a bit wobbly and it’s all coming from Salman’s head.

And students like this approach. It makes maths look do-able.

Go, Salman.

Mathspig thinks you are just GORGEOUS!!!!!!!!!

 Australia’s Year 7 – 12 Maths Curriculum is already on-line and free, funded by McDonald’s. See What are maths teachers for, sir?

The tutes on Maths Online are produced by Aussie Maths teachers and they are very good. Mathspig, of course, imagined the quadratic function tutes might look something like this:


10. The Homework Vs Complaining Graph

February 4, 2011

This graph says it all, mathspigs!!

You can read more about the worst way to go about doing homework @ Homework: Fun and Entertainment for all the Family.


The 10 Dumbest Maths Questions

March 21, 2010

This post could be called the 10 Most Annoying Maths Questions. It began when Sarah Ebner, who runs the fabulous Edu Blog for the Times (UK) Schoolgate asked me to comment on her daughter’s maths homework.

Here is the question:

This week we have been working on addition and subtraction linked to money. The children have been using skills relating to mental strategies such as bridging through a multiple of 10, number bonds, partitioning, doubling and near doubles, counting on or back in 10s, using what they know to look at patterns or use the inverse, using imaginary number lines or 100 square in their heads. They have also been using the idea of the difference when doing some subtraction sums or when giving change

Homework task: 

Using the appropriate strategies, complete the attached worksheet. Show your workings. Buying a balloon. Lolla bought a balloon at the circus. She gave the clown six coins to pay for it.

What could Lolla have paid for the balloon? Which of your answers seems a reasonable amount to pay for a balloon?

Key questions: 

What is the largest amount of money we could make? What is the smallest amount of money we could make? How will we know when we have all the possibilities?”

Now keep in mind this HOMEWORK has been set for an 8 year old. The complexity of this maths is ASTOUNDING, obviously, for an 8 year old. This question fits the heading ‘Permutations & Combinations’ which introduces Statistics. The language is over-the-top. It is in Australia too. Why can’t kids just DO maths? I was helping my 10 year old neighbour do his maths homework on Thursday. He was doing short division. ‘You have to know the algorithm’ he explained. “You mean you have to know the way to do the maths?’ I asked. His 8 year old sister did a pig drawing for me. I think she’s captured the moment, really without prompting.

PARENTS who do not do maths must feel totally intimidated. As an ex-maths teacher married to an engineer our kids were not blessed either. We tried, on occasion, to help them out. But it was TOO MUCH information. It might explain why both of my children grew up to be arty. One of my kids was bored witless in maths and would fall asleep on his notes. The other one did maths like SUDOKU to fill in time between art classes. Their experience, in part, is why I’ve created Mathspig. They’re not alone. Australian students are dropping advanced maths in droves. The statistic shown was published in The Australian yesterday (20th March, 2010) 

I went and read a number of maths books lying around the house – collecting dust – and I found there was a real pattern to Dumb Questions.

When I returned to maths – as a hobby, always lerved it – after 25 years in the media I found texts books often read like THE ANCIENT RED SEA SCROLLS. What area does a goat graze???? A GOAT!!! Why not ‘what area does your computer mouse need to move at different lengths?’ Good maths students will tackle anything. Teachers face greater challenges. This blog is aimed at finding ways of grabbing the attention of ALL students.

Please send me any DUMB MATHS QUESTIONS you stumble across and I might give an award at the end of the year to the dumbest. The questions below are from a Year 7 TEXT book unless specified. It was quite a good text but well…..

Here are the 10 Dumbest Maths Questions;


These are the questions where maths teachers (Text book writers are usually maths teachers) want to say ‘Look! See maths is important. You can use this particular maths to solve real problems. But the questions are so FAKE they’re laughable. Some boil down to the three men walked into a bar type model … others are just weird. Check out the Names in Q (below) and the Year 12 Q. What is the likelihood of hitting the bird? -Um, absurd!!!!!! 


Once again trying to show students that maths is useful questions are asked that only an idiot would try to solve using maths.

IN the Year 11 Q2  (Below) if you had any relationship with a sheep or a goat – I’m thinking goat farmer – you don’t calculate the area grazed. You move the goat. In Q1 how could your friend remember all of those details, but forget the actual number of your house!!!!!!



In the first question check out the punishment for not doing maths!! That’s about as subtle as being hit on the head with a Maths Landing Vehicle.

In the second question the mathematicians die!!!!! Mind you, the idea might cheer up the class. look how much homeowrk the kid does in the last Q? Year 7.


In the first Year 11 Q you do not use matrices to score cricket statistics. In the second Q if you want to know the names of your friends, um, ask them.



or Fear and Loathing in the Loungeroom. This is when the maths set is way beyond the resources or standard of the students involved. If these questions are then sent home as homework – as with the Q that started this whole discussion – then the pain is transferred others. Sometimes you suspect that teachers offload the questions they can’t answer to parents!!!! Here are some more. The Q1  is doable but it will be hours of fun and games for all the family. Q2, um, Wha?


The students are studying fractions, say. Then they are given a task that involves maths they have not learnt yet. The problem is that the question looks reasonable but isn’t. These sorts of questions produce the whining lament of young students … ‘I can’t do maths!!!’


When maths teachers make jokes they are often lame. Check out the Question below. It’s just bad PR. Who would want to grow up to be such a nerd.



Either the question is impossible to solve. These often come from typos like ‘find the square root -4’ in Year 8. Or the question is just all wrong. Could you cut a cloth into 1mm strips…. without a laser cutter?



There is no point to doing the question. Who would count the legs to find out how many beetles are involved? So why do it?


You could go to all the trouble to work out the surface area of your dog and then calculate how many hairs Rufus had, but why? Is Rufus worried he’s going bald?


This has made me rethink mathspig. I’ll add more answers. There is nothing more frustrating that doing all the hard work and there is no answer at the back of the book. You want to throw the book at them. The following is a Year 12 Q but, alas, no answers at the back of the book. 


Odd Bods in Marie Claire

January 22, 2010

Women’s Magazines have a strange kind of logic. On the one hand they push the philosophy ‘love yourself’, ‘love who you are’ and then they provide 365 pages showing you how to change every bit of yourself including your hair, eyebrows, pubic hair, tan, weight, skin tone, fitness, nose shape, career, boobs, how-to-hook him techniques and so on. Marie Claire, Australia, is no different. Nevertheless I adopt the policy that these magazines are a bit of frou-frou fluff that women find entertaining. If girls and women want to beat themselves up with impossible goals then that is their right. But there are limits and the January edition, 2010 of Marie Claire is a classic.

Claiming to support real women and real body sizes Marie Claire ran a survey to see which body size 6,8, 10, 12, 14 or 16 was preferred by the Australian public.

Firstly, these surveys involve meaningless maths because they use  SELF SELECTING SAMPLES.  Nevertheless, there she is,the most popular choice, Size 12 or Ms 59%.

Keep flipping through the magazine, however, and you will find a shopping guide very common in these magazines. Have a look at the model (below)???? Do alarm bells ring?? Let’s do the maths, mathspigs.

Look at the pictures (above). The waist to hip measurement is the same for each model namely 20mm.  I’ve scaled up the images by factor of 10 (below) so that:

Waist to hip = 200mm.

Now look at the leg lengths!!!!!!!!


Who is this model? Alice in Wonderland? Her legs are 89% longer than a girl with the same waist to hip length or have her legs been digitally stretched by 89%?

Teachers I urge you to ask girls to bring in women’s/girl’s magazines to do some similar maths. To check if a model’s legs have been digitally stretched you can use the hip to knee and knee to ankle ratio which should be close to 1:1. We have to help girls develop a visual sense of proportion. And the maths quantifies this critical thinking. Rather than girls concentrating on booster bras boosting brains makes more sense.