Archive for the ‘graphs’ Category


Why do so many students HATE MATH? … um, you know, BOREDOM

September 28, 2019

According to ‘Bored Out of Their Minds’, an article by ZACHARY JASON in The Harvard Ed Magazine (2017):

Boredom accounts for nearly a third of the variation in student achievement. 

Half of high school dropouts cite boredom as their primary motivator for leaving.

Boredom begins for Math students at Grade 6 when students (Common Core Standards, USA) tackle more abstract concepts such as linear eqns, exponents, probability, geometry and so on.

Math curriculums in the USA, UK & Australia all demand students solve REAL LIFE problems. Too often these are of the type:

Q. Ronaldo has tethered his goat on a 12ft rein in the corner of a 20ft square field. What area can the goat graze?

THE ANS: Who cares?


Ask students maths questions which have answers they want to know.

Students really don’t care about Ronaldo’s goat, but here are some questions which involve intriguing answers they might want to work out. And many of these questions involve funny or age-relevant activities, which also helps engagement.

1. Mean, Median STATS: Mean, Median and Coffee: Busting an Urban Myth

2. Parabolas: Can you beat the 12-14 yo World Record for a Watermelon Pip spit?

3. Geometry: Build a Freestanding Tower

Rates (Speed) & Units:

4a. The Terrifying Math of Running from a bear

USA Units


4b. How old is your hair?

5. Decimals, %, Volume: What Volume of alcohol is lethal for teens?

6. Decimals, Algebra, Weight Units

How much blood can a kid lose and survive?


Metric Units

Graph Hunger Game Math

7. GEOMETRY. Angles

Why killer heels can kill!

Any Topic:

8. Middle School Math Photo Scavenger Hunt

9. Write Your Own Math Song

Space Math Song here

10. Make a Math Poster


The average time it takes an audience at a conference to switch off is 11 minutes. Keep in mind this audience is, at least, being paid to be bored witless.


Math Grafitti: The good, the bad and the OMG-That’s AMAZING!

March 1, 2019

We’ll start with the GOODCheck out the graph here.

…. and the NOT SO GOOD.

More information at


and the OMG-That’s-AMAZING!

Thanks to Slumfe on IMgur


Math Nerd Love

February 14, 2019

The New York Times (The Perfect Valentine? A math formula 14 FEB 2019) has published an interactive widget from my favourite math website IMAGINARY for Valentine’s Day.

Here is the formula:


You’ll find IMAGINARY’S  interactive LOVE widget HERE.



February 11, 2019

Mathspig Funny maths blogs

You will find the background pattern here.

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1 Header

The absolute delight of Spurious Correlations is its craziness. Tyler Vigen is studying law at Harvard Law School, but he puts together the most ridiculous data you can imagine to show the correlation between eg. Per capita cheese consumption AND the number of people who died by getting tangled in their bed sheets, people who drowned after falling out of a fishing boat AND the marriage ration Kentucky. Of course, what Tyler is demonstrating is the basic maths principle, mathspiggies, that correlation is not causation. Here is one of his fabulous graphs:

 1a Spurious Correlations Graph

Here is one graph from Spurious Correlati0ns (above) and the cover of Tyler’s New Book (below).

1b book cover

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 2. HeaderMath with Bad Drawings is run by Ben Orlin. He describes himself as ‘a math maths teacher in Birmingham, England. Before that, I taught in Oakland, California. I’ve taught (or am currently teaching!) every level of mathematics from ages 12 to 18.’

Not only is Ben’s humorous and fascinating take on maths interesting, his philosophy of life is worth a read too. e.g. We are all simultaneously experts and beginners, flaunting our talents while trying to cover our shortcomings the way an animal hides a wound.’

Here are two delightful examples of his maths with bad drawings:

2a. Maths with bad drawings2b. Maths with bad drawings

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3. Header

Mathspig has written about the fabulous What if? blog before.

Randall Munroe is a pro web cartoonist, maths nut and maths guru who answers crazy hypothetical questions using maths. His home website is xkcd.

His TED lecture is here.

Randall offers this warning to his KXCD blog: this comic occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors). Of course, this makes his blog even more interesting. Maths, profanity and silly humour. Bring it on.

How What if? blog asks and answers interesting questions:

What would happen if I dug straight down, at a speed of 1 foot per second? What would kill me first?

Could a bird deliver a standard 20″ New York-style cheese pizza in a box? And if so, what kind of bird would it take?

Here is one example:

3a What if ?

 3b What if?

And his book What if? Can be found here.

 3c What if? book cover

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4. Header

The joy of Yan’s One Minute Math blog is his eclectic collection of topics from . Kow-Cheong Yan is a Singapore-based teacher, math consultant, math blogger and maths book author (Grade 1- 6).


The Lighter Side of Innumeracy gives an insight into maths incompetence and superstition in Singapore. It shows that charlatans can still prey on the innumerate. And Yan’s critique of Drill-and-Kill texts promoted in Singapore is refreshing in an age where politicians are forever calling for Back-to-basics teaching methods for maths.


 But my favourite post on Yan’s blog is;

Mathematical Fiction is not optional. The number of novels using maths as a theme is inspiring especially with Yan adding a comment like this:

If you’re looking for math, women, sex, and back-stabbing, The Wild Numbers (Philibert Schogt) is a math melodrama unlikely to disappoint.


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5. header mathjokes4mathyfolks

Mathjokes4mathyfolks is run by my good math(s) friend Patrick Vennebush, who lives in Virginia with his wife, twin boys and his Golden Retriever Remy. He loves math(s), laughing and telling jokes. He also runs online projects for National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

5a. Patrick

Patrick believes math(s) should be fun and his blog includes jokes, problems and real-life challenges. His collection of jokes is published in a book and cover the gamete from cool to Dad-style jokes. Here’s an example:

5b book cover5c joke

Here are some examples from his blog:

Simultaneous Equations and Pizza

5d pizza problem

Angle of Opportunity looks at the angle a boy should pee in the toilet bowl without splatter fallout!!!!

5d pee angle

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6 header mathfail

Here is Math Fail on Facebook. And here is the Math Fail blog run by Self proclaimed Math Geek Mike, who explains that in addition to math fails, you will find a huge collection of geeky math jokes, interesting math facts, dumb math news, puzzles, speed math advice, math related comics, funny math pictures and more!! (It is not a Cheeseburger Fail blog.)

It is just a fun blog to explore. Here are some examples.

6a Math Fail

6b Math Fail

6c Math FAil

6d Math Fail

Who can be offended? They’re just numbers!!!!

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Debbie O’Sullivan’s pinterest stream Math Puns/Jokes is worth a visit or two.



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8. header math cartoon

The Math Cartoons & Humor is pinterest run by Jiji the penguin. Actually, the penguin didn’t do it. Jiji the penguin is the mascot of STMath, a commercial education system that teaches math visually, and with minimum language, in the USA. Here are some examples of the humor: 8a



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9. header mathmashup

Mashup Math is mind blowing from its math philosophy to its eclectic approach. Anthony Persico runs MashUp Math. He has taught in NY, VA, and CO and runs a YouTube channel. He believes in inclusive math education,that all students learn math differently and that the one-size-fits-all approach is ineffective. The worksheets, teacher resources supplied via mathmashup are FREE!

9a Anthony pic

Here is the Facebook link to Mathmashup:

9b slope

This is a screen shot of  his roller coaster youtube clip on gradient or slope!!!

Here is his Mathsmashup You Tube channel (above), which is designed to help visual learners.


Here are some amazing sports stats (above) from the LA Times. Basketball Legend Kobe Bryant’s 30,699th and final field goal came from 19 feet with 31 seconds left against the Utah Jazz. This picture below shows every one of the 30,699 goals he scored. AMAAAAAAZING!

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10 header math antics

Math Antics Youtube Channel is run by, Rob and Jeremy, who are both funny and clear in their maths clips, which are directed mainly at Middle school. The youtube lessons are free, but Rob and Jeremy do charge teachers US$20 for a year of worksheets.

Their Math Antics website is here.

10a base 10

Base 10 video screen grab.

10b Order of Operation

Order of Operations Screen grab.


6. If the pilot dies the control tower can talk you down.

January 3, 2019

So mathpigs, here is a small taste of what you would need to do to land a small aircraft in an emergency if the pilot is unconscious/dead.

A = Airspeed

Find airspeed indicator on instrument panel.

Instrument Panel Piper PA-28

Check speed.

Knots or mph or kph?

Avoid red zone. Too fast.

Knots outer scale. mph inner scale. Recommended velocity between blue & red.

B = Contact nearest air traffic controllers. 

1. Call MayDay MayDay MayDay

2.  Look for plane ID. It will be on instrument panel somewhere.

3. Check fuel.

On the Piper Cherokee there are 2 fuel tanks, R & L. Check both.

Check aircraft operating handbook to see fuel consumption and remaining time in air.

Quick calc.


C = Checklist

Follow Emergency Landing Checklist in aircraft operating handbook for Power OFF or Power ON landing.

Keep in mind, if your air speed is too low you can drop from air, but the higher the landing speed the bigger crash.

Crash energy increases with the square of speed. It’s a parabola!!!!!

The likelihood of a passenger with

NO flying experience landing a plane safely in an emergency is

very small.

The likelihood of a passenger with

NO MATHS skills landing a plane safely in an emergency is




7. You can safely jump from a burning skyscraper/bridge/aircraft into water.

December 13, 2018

Angels and Demons (2009) Tom Hanks character, Robert Langdon, hero of Dan Brown’s jumps from a helicopter and falls thousands of feet into Rome’s Tiber River and survives, of course.

Ahhhh! Look up. It’s raining Tom Hanks!!!!!The Hulk (2003) The Hulk hops from the Golden Gate bridge onto a jet fighter, whose pilot tries to get rid of him at high altitude. The Hulk falls off and plummets many thousands of feet into the bay. He survives.

There are 2 factors we must consider when jumping or diving from a great height:

1. Surface Impact

2.Water depth 

1. Surface Impact

According to the Free Fall website falling into water is not a good survival strategy. 

‘Someone falling without a parachute from more than 2,000 feet or so would be falling quite a bit faster than 100 miles per hour (161 kph) The folks who have survived falls into water have had streaming parachutes above them, which probably slowed their falls to the 60 mph range (97 kph). Having a streaming parachute helps in another way because it aligns the body in a position where the feet enter the water first.’

The website goes on to explain that water is an INCOMPRESSIBLE FLUID. It’s like landing on concrete. Landing in mud, on snow, on trees, on circus tents etc helps break the fall. Moreover, jumping off a bridge into turbulent sea may be safer than jumping into calm water.

On 24th Oct 1930, Vincent Kelly, 31, while working on the Sydney Harbour Bridge fell 170 ft (52 m) into Sydney Harbour and survived.

A champion diver he did several summersaults and landed feet first. He broke a couple of ribs as he did not enter the water at a perfect RIGHT ANGLE but rather a few degrees off perpendicular..

2. Water Depth

The next issue is, if you are going to dive or jump into water from a great height and, miraculously, survive the impact, how deep should the water  be?

Olympic divers often practice their dives in a bubble pools (like a spa). This reduces the impact for a bad dive but the water must be much deeper. Sports Smart Canada recommends a water depth of double the height of the drop. But is this realistic if, say, you are jumping or diving from the top of a waterfall into aerated water.

You can work out approximate depths needed if you were jumping into calm water from heights such as below:

How deep do you plunge? The answer is surprising because, in fact, you decelerate really fast in water.

See REd Bull Jump Science here

Thanks to Rod Vance  for the Fluid Engineering Calcs (done by hand … not by computer program) for calculating the depth of water when your feet stop moving. That is the minimum depth of water needed for the jump (See graph below)

NOTE: Even with this fancy maths assumptions must be made about the transition epoch-half in/half out of the water.

 Assuming you survive the impact and you breath out through your nose – to stop water going up your nostrils really fast- then you will not go any deeper than approx 4 m or 13 ft from a platform of 20 m (65 ft) or less.

If you’re diving into water from, say, a helicopter as in the Demons & Angels movie you don’t need extremely deep water. Assume Langdon was at 100m (328 ft) or the height of The Statue of Liberty(above) or a 33 story building  when he jumped, then extrapolating the graph (above), maybe, a depth of 5m (16 ft) would do.

If you want to see what looking down from a 58.8 m (193 ft) platform looks like check out thisWorld Record Jump by Laso Schaller.


10. You can out run a lava flow … USA UNITS

November 17, 2018

This is a rework of a previous post with full calcs.

Dantes_peak_ver2Every volcano disaster movie from Volcano (1997) with Tommy Lee Jones to Dante’s Peak (1997) with Pierce Brosnan someone somewhere tries to out run a lava flow. Is this possible?

The answer is maybe. You will find everything you want to know about lava flows here.Volcano_ver2

On January 10,1977, at Nyiragongo lava sprang from the sides of the volcano moving at speeds up to 40 miles per hour. About 70 people were killed.


lava temp Measuring the temperature of lava. Photograph by R.L. Christiansen, U.S. Geological Survey, January 9, 1973.

The fastest Lava flows recorded were in Hawaiiin 1950 when Mauna Loa erupted. The lava traveled at 6 miles per hour through thick forest. But once the lava flows became established and good channels developed, the lava in the channels was flowing at up to 60 mph.

Speed of average sprinter = 10 – 15 mph

Can you out run a lava flow?

 You would be scorched in 33 seconds!!!