Archive for the ‘homeworkpig’ Category


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.


Like Wear a Helmet Dude! You Sooo don’t Need a Hole in the Head!!!!

May 19, 2009

The wearing of bicycle helmets is compulsory for all ages in Australia, New Zealand and Spain. Fines for not wearing a bicycle helmet  range from $30 to $110 in Australia. Iceland and the Czech Republic have made bicycle helmets compulsory for under 15 year olds and Ontario Canada for under 18 year olds. Why wear a bike helmet?  The value of this legislation was hammered, possiblyelectric drill Correction drilled, home today by a report in The Australian. Nicholas Rossi, 12, injured his head after falling off his bike when not wearing a bicycle helmet. His life was saved only because Dr Rob Carson, a quick thinking GP from Maryborough, Victoria, used an electric drill to drill a hole in Nicholas’s head to relieve pressure on his brain.  (See ABC report)

Road Safety for cyclists, however, not only depends on cyclists but also depends on motorists. Unfortunately, motorists do not always drive safely around cyclists.

bike helmet My favourite research on Road Safety for Cyclists was conducted by Dr Walker, University of Bath,UK who  cycled around Bath with a sensor attached to his bike which measured the distance of passing  cars.  Dr Walker  wore a helmet, no helmet and – of all things – a long black wig. His results were very interesting especially for clowns.  Dr Walker found cars passed him on average 8.4 cm closer when he was wearing a helmet than when he was bare headed so close, in fact, he was hit TWICE; once by a bus and once by a truck.

Mathspig is very happy to say that Dr Walker survived to continue his studies. Next he ventured onto the roads of Bath in a long, black wig. Motorists kept well away from the wig -wearer. Dr Walker concluded that motorists assumed cyclists in helmets were Tour De France level pros who needed the least passing gap; bareheaded cyclists were wobbly amateurs who needed more room and odd-bods in wigs are so weird they need a really big gap. Motorists, obviously, were anxious to avoid hitting a clown on a bike!!!!! Further studies are needed.

Mathspigs you can conduct some original and worthwhile research on motorists driving habits. Ask as many adults as you can how much room they should leave when passing a cyclist in a car. Ask them to show you the distance using their hands. Measure this distance with a tape.  You can make a Bar Graph of this information by plotting how many people allowed 0 – 10 cm, 11-20cm, 21 – 30 cm etc. When you have completed your research send this information to: Bicycle NSW, who are active in engaging students in Bicycle safety projects.   

Meanwhile, here is a funny story about bicycle helmets. When bicycle helmets became compulsory  in the nineties in Australia one old bloke in mathspig’s home town decided he wasn’t going to pay for a helmet. He cut a watermelon to size and wore it tied onto his head with a white garbage bag. This left the local police really scratching their heads as they weren’t sure what to do.


All I Wanna Do Is Sing about Co-ordinates to You!!!!!!

May 11, 2009

Here are two links about graphs suitable for Year 7 mathspigs.face graph

The first will link  you to the most dreadful song you are ever likely to hear about plotting co-ordinates on X and Y axes. The reason Mathspig is including this link is because it can be used by maths teachers as a threat.

If you do not work on your  maths problems involving co-ordinates I will sing this song. (Insert Maniacal Laugh Here)  Ha! Ha! 



The second link is to a ‘rooolly’ cool FREE online game about co-oridinates…. It’s a bit like Battleships but involves space ships.

spaceship 1

spaceship 2sapceship 3     Spaceships Online Game:


Clip art of graph by Naomi Wright #mce_temp_url#






Dumb and, um, Dumber Customer Survey

May 4, 2009

New Scientist magazine reported 28th March that a company called Solar Plus UK claimed in leaflets that “99.98% of  Solar Plus customers said they would recommend Solar Plus to their family and friends. Based on a survey of 60 customers carried out in 2007 – 2008”.feedback-1

Mathspigs I want to know what number of people , according to Solar Plus, would not recommend their product.

(Note: Mathspig  scribbled the answer on the mag at right.)


Footy, footy, footy…. and more footy!!!

April 28, 2009

As you know mathspigs All football codes are awash with statistics. It seems that a football player cannot score, sneeze or stratch themselves without someone keeping the statistics.

Here’s the question. Do these statistics mean anything???? We’ll start with AFL football. cooney-adam007

Adam Cooney, Western Bulldogs won the AFL Brownlow Medal in 2008.  Mathew Richardson and Gary Ablett were joint runners up and Simon Black (Brisbane Lions) came 3rd.

You will find these results and more statistics on the AFL website: #mce_temp_url#

Here are some statitics for the 2008 season:


1st: Adam Cooney (Western Bulldogs)  Games: 25     kicks: 311   Disposals 637   Marks: 98    Goals: 23

Joint 2nd: Matthew Richardson (Richmond)  Games: 20     kicks: 202   Disposals 364   Marks: 222    Goals: 48

Joint 2nd: Gary Ablett (Geelong)  Games: 21     kicks: 288   Disposals: 606   Marks: 100    Goals: 26

3rd: Simon Black (Brisbane Lions)  Games: 21     kicks: 253   Disposals 539   Marks: 61    Goals: 10


Do these statistics give us useful information?

To answer this question mathspigs we need some graphs. Go to the AFL website and collect more stats on the first 10 players in the AFL 2008 Brownlow Medal tally.

Then draw 3 bar graphs one for kicks, one for disposals and one for marks. In each of these graphs the 1st bar is for the Brownlow top scorer, 2nd bar and the 3rd bar for the next two scorers, and so on. 

If the statistics have meaning then we should see a very clear trend in the graphs. Do the graphs, mathspigs and post your results in the comments.