Archive for the ‘Real World Math’ Category


Real World Maths: Surds and all that jazz …

October 12, 2022

Eddie Woo is an Aussie Maths teacher who runs his own Youtube Channel. So popular is this channel in October 2015, Woo won the NSW Premier’s Prize for Innovation in Science and Mathematics. This youtube clip won’t tell you where you will use surds, but it does something magical.

It compares surds to different kinds of music to help students understand why mathematicians go crazy over the concept of surds. This clip tells why maths is soooooo special. There is no guesswork or fake information in this maths. Maths must be accurate. And surds demonstrate this point. (Look for the 5 min mark)

Will you use surds in real life?

Maybe. Probably, not. But surds are used in mathematical programs that demand accuracy. eg. engineering skyscrapers, building satellite dishes, and even in video games. But you won’t see them. Like so much mathematics surds will be hidden in some algorithm.

Here are two Examples:

1. The Golden Ratio:

Often written a 1:1.61 the Golden Ratio or Fibonacci Sequence appears in art and nature and has an aesthetic appeal to the eye, but the accurate ratio is:

2. The Quadratic Function

Satellite dishes, headlights, torches, and bridges all designed using the parabolic arc. The parabola is defined by the quadratic function and sometimes solving for x produces an irrational no. namely a surd. Rounding off can introduce inaccuracies that can become more dramatic when scaled up to the sie of, say, a bridge. 

3. The Golden Ratio in Music

Mozart arranged his piano sonatas so that the number of bars in the development and recapitulation divided by the number of bars in the exposition would equal approximately 1.618, the Golden Ratio. Find more @ CLASSIC FM.

Back to Mozart.

In the above diagram, C is the sonata’s first movement as a whole, B is the development and recapitulation, and A is the exposition.

And here is Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 1 in C Major as an example. Can you hear the Golden Ratio. Not really. But it’s there.


DART vs ASTEROID: Middle School Math

September 27, 2022

DART is a test

of NASA’s planetary defence plans.



                                       Guess what?

The DART(Double Asteroid Redirection Test) mission was launched on Nov. 23, 2021, atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

It is the size of a small vending machine and it has been travelling through space for 10 months.


When Area Calcs mean Big Bucks

August 25, 2022

Bank Notes returned to RBA data.

RBA grids for damaged notes.



August 7, 2022

The aim of this post is to show middle school math students that MATRICES are used in the REAL WORLD of GAME DEVELOPMENT.

They don’t have to do the math. 

To have some fun playing with a 2D to 2D transformations go to this MathIsFun post.


Crazy Guy uses Infrared Sensors on Xbox Kinect to create WoW! Synth-Pop VIDEO

August 7, 2022

The aim of this post is to show middle school math students that MAPPING is used in the REAL WORLD of Synth-Pop Music Video Production.

IT Records on Facebook


Killer Easter Egg Math

March 30, 2022

According to The Guinness Book of Records the largest chocolate Easter Egg went on display at Le Acciaierie Shopping Centre, in Cortenuova, Italy, on 2011.

 Egg Weight   = 7,200 kg  = 15,873 lbs

Height = 10 m =  34 ft

Circumference = 19.6 m = 64 ft

The sugar content for easter eggs is: 55-65% by weight

So we will assume the sugar content of the giant egg was in the middle:


The weight of sugar in the giant egg equals:


What’s the Maths Curriculum got to do with it? WHEN Maths is, like, soooo BORING!!!!!

February 22, 2022

Australia is reviewing its Maths Curriculum.

Sides are taken. Arguments are rife. See the excellent article by Donna LuCracking the formula: how should Australia be teaching maths under the national curriculum?, The Guardian,13 FEB, 2022)

Should teachers teach? Or students explore problems? (Called Cognitive Activation in academe!)

Why not, both? Then add outdoor maths (below) plus defronting the classroom sometimes and try some maths selfies for homework. More ideas here

It doesn’t matter what’s written in the curriculum, the biggest problem in maths for students is


Here, to tackle boredom are:

41 Maths things to do before you’re 12

Mathspig outdoor play quote

mathspig outdoor-play-app

A growing body of research shows us that outdoor play leads to better physical and mental health, has positive effects on cognitive function and learning, and reduces the incidence of behavioural problems.” Maria Zotti, Nature Play, SA.

Peter Dunstan, Principal Kilkenny PS, SA, writes in SAPPA magazine, Primary Focus, that outdoor play fosters “wonderment, independence and freedom” as well as “social skills, imagination, creativity and problem solving”.

Inspired by SAPPA and NaturePlay,  Mathspig has produced her own outdoorsy maths list:

 Mathspig 41 maths things 1Mathspig 41 maths things 2mathspig 41 maths things 3

Mathspig 41 maths things 4mathspig 41 maths things 5


7. Robin Hood Give us your best shot.

9. You can measure the volume of your lungs by blowing one breath into a balloon and pushing it into a full bucket of water. Measure the overflow.

15: Outdoor Maths: Times Tables

21. Light intensity links. Here and here.

25.  Sound Volume Measurement

36. Killer heels that really kill.


How Gamers Gamed the Hedge Funds: Middle School Math

January 28, 2022


Maths in the Real World: 10 Attention Grabbers for Middle School

September 5, 2021

1. Smoke Jumpers: The Amazing Maths of wildfires






2. The Rolling Coin Paradox!!



3. How barcodes work!



4. Pop Song Beats and Jogging


Pop Song Beats and Jogging MATHS HERE


5. Linear Math and Linear Drumming. It’s a thing!


Linear Math and Linear Drumming. HERE


6. Powers and the Loudest Rock Band in the World

Powers and the Loudest Rock Band MATHS HERE


7. Alcohol Kills! Calculate how much would kill you!

Alcohol Kills! MATHS HERE


8. Tall Tales: Is height the most important factor in sport?

Height in Sport maths: USA UNITS HERE

Height in Sport maths: METRIC UNITS HERE


9. Mmmmm! Chocolate. Yes! It can kill  you

Chocolate. Yes! It can kill  you MATHS HERE


10. Random Music? You think!


Random Music?MATHS HERE


Car Crash Maths: Saved by a millisecond

August 22, 2021

*In 1970 the Victorian Government made the wearing of seat belts compulsory.

*The first government in the west to do so.

 *Within 14 months the other Australian states followed.

*The road toll in Australia dropped:

   1969       3,382 road deaths per year

   1988       2,887 deaths

   2018      1,135  deaths

Mathspig lived on a country police station before seat belts became compulsory and a number of kids she went to school with died in car accidents.

Three factors have reduced the road toll in Australia:

1. Wearing seat belts

2. Stopping drink driving

3. Introducing Airbags (from 1980s)

Our eyes can easily detect the blink (above) set a 300ms.

Ditto, the light flash (below), which is set to flash at  200 ms but it will drive you CRAZY if you look at it for too long.

The fabulous video (below) will show you the amazing details of the ms timing that saves lives in a car crash. You will see real car crash tests. And the frightening results too.

It was made by an engineer who worked for GMH or Holden as we call it in Australia.