Posts Tagged ‘fun maths ideas for teachers’


5. It takes 43 muscles to frown and only 17 to smile

July 9, 2013

Can’t those scientists count?

baby laugh…….grin…….pic 9 smile.……

According to Shamini Bundell on Null Hypothesis

baby frown 2..angry babuy.pic 8 frown..

….Various experts have tried counting the muscles involved. Mainly they argue over how to define a smile and a frown and come up with different answers.

Either way most of the numbers quoted at you by irritatingly cheerful people are entirely made up.

As Shamini noted “It takes 37 muscles to frown and 22 to smile, but it only takes 4 to reach out and punch someone in the face.”

43 muscles to smile myth and nose busted.


Trick 10: Math Mentalist Devises Foolproof Gambling System

November 30, 2012





Math Mentalist Devises Foolproof Gambling System

Requirements: Smart board/Data Projector

or Chalk & Talk

This is the most awesome way to introduce probability.

Mentalist Derren Brown devises a foolproof gambling system. He sends a girl , Kadisha, the number of a winning horse in race to be run the next day. It wins. He sends her the winning horse and race number 4 more times. She ends up with winnings close to £ 1000 before the final race. Derren convinces her to borrow money for the last bet. She does. She places £4,000 on a horse. Did it win?????

Watch Part 5 of The System



If you are not convinced Derren Brown can come up with a foolproof system for horse race tipping, let me explain The System. He took 7,776 e-mail addresses, divided them into 6 equal groups and sent each group a different number for a horse in a 6 horse race to be run the next day. Naturally, one group of 1296 had been given the winning horse number.  This group was divided into 6 again and given the number of the ‘winning’ in a six horse race the next day and so on.

Race 1: 7776

Race 2: 1296

Race 3: 216

Race 4: 36

Race 5: 6

Out of 7776 punters, only one punter was given in advance five horse race winners in a row. Was it Kadisha. You will have to watch the Youtube above.

You can watch THE SYSTEM in full here. It takes 47 mins.


10 Reasons Why Maths Teachers Rock!!!!

January 4, 2011

Science Teachers can be a little creepy.

Music Teachers can get carried away.

The new foreign language teacher can be too friendly.

PE teachers expect you to enthusiastically embrace the challenge of  freezing your ass off outdoors.

Domestic Science teachers teach too many useless things like how to boil an egg or shrink a child.

Librarians get really upset when you don’t return books.

Art teachers can go too post-modern.

English teachers nag you to read books that are, get this, already out on DVD.

Drama teachers can get too carried away with the performance concept.

Some teachers really do know how to make you do your homework!

But maths teachers …

Oh YEAH Maths Teachers

we are cool, babe!

… like totally co^2l!


We’re All Goin’ On A Summer Holiday …. Will We Need our Winter Woollies?

January 22, 2010

The School Summer Holidays are about to end. The academic year kicks off in Australia at the end of January. Mathspig is in Melbourne enjoying the Summer weather in a city known for having 4 seasons in one day. Just to blast your maths’ neurons into action here are some interesting statistics about Melbourne’s weather.

These are for Monday 18th January:

Now we will have a little play with averages. 

Melbourne’s long term Maximum Average for January is 26C. But if you are traveling to Melbourne in January do not pack bags for the average temp bring clothes for all seasons including some winter woollies!


How to Biff a Boffin!!!

December 24, 2009

 Mathspigs we need a formula to work out how to biff a boffin. I have one in mind, but let me explain. Maths professors are now in the habit of coming up with some crazy formula to grab media attention. 

 ‘Mathematicians’ who should know better (Show-Me-The-Money ethics may be involved) have produced formulae for The Perfect Sitcom ; The Perfect Joke; The Perfect Day; The Perfect Rugby Kick ; The Perfect Marriage (Yeah, right!); The Perfect Chip”  and so on. See : Britney’s Naughtiness Factor Calculated for Idiots  Sometimes the formula is rubbish because it includes impossible measurements such as N (the fraction of nipple shown in naughtiness calculations) or f (the funniness of a punch line for Perfect joke calculations.) Now Professor Simon Blackburn from the University of London’s Royal Holloway College has calculated the minimum extra length a parking space needs to be to parallel park your car in association with  – let me see – Vauxhall. Surpise! Surpise!

The following article by Murray Waldrop first appeared in the Guardian, UK and then The Age, Australia (17/12/09)

 Mathspig calculated the extra distance needed to parallel her Mazda 3 behind Mr Mathspigs Land Rover Discovery.

r = 5.45 m

l = 2.63 m

k = o.76 m

      w = 1.79 m

Minimum extra length needed to parallel park Mazda 3 = 1.64 m

The answer seems reasonable but you better check the calcs mathspigs as I was so boooooored I thought I might fall asleep and smash my face into the keyboard doing this calculation. 

Why is Mathspig so angry with boffins? Because this is maths for idiots. No one in their right mind would stop and calculate how much space they need to park a car. A driver has a look and – depending on driving skills – says ‘I reckon that’s a bit tight?’ or ‘Yep! that’ll do.’ These crazy formulae make maths and mathematicians look dumb. Is this what mathematicians do? Stop in the middle of the road to calculate if they can park their cars???? D’uh! Or do mathematicians use iffy formulae to calculate funniness factors?

If we want kids to do maths we should convince them it is both useful and relevant (Mathspig’s Mission, my friends). Even in the classroom student’s are asked to complete useless calculations. eg. If a farmer was grazing a goat in the corner of a rectangular paddock on a 5m tether, what area would the goat graze? Who would do this maths? The farmer simply looks at the paddock and says ‘I better move the goat?’  Students must practise their skills. But they absolutely have to do some real maths too!!!!!

 Mathspigs keep an eye out for dumb maths. Teachers purleasssse take these crazy formulae into class. Show your students they are rubbish!!!

Then show them some useful maths like I Got the Speed Camera Blues!! 

What’s the formula to biff a boffin? Who cares but if you must here is a hint:

  r = length of your arm with the boffins ear @ a point on the circumference of the circle.


But Baby, my Feets too Big!!!!!

September 22, 2009

Confused_tnsThose Hippie Statisticians at The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)  are Navel Gazing Again!!!! . Here are the statistics for the height of students belly buttons above the ground for Year 4 – 12 students. ABS  #mce_temp_url#





height chart Correction


tom & kate


policeman_stop_tns Stop!!! WARNING!!!

Before we do any maths with students height mathspigs, be warned. Students can be teased or embarrassed by their height. Mathspig has always argued that a lampost is tall but does not have much of a personality. And a bee is very small but you’d be crazy to tease one. Nevertheless we will use celebrity heights and average student heights instead. 

Here we go!!!!!




 Look at the data. It is useless. THIS IS THE POINT. You have to make sense of data not just sprout numbers. Foot sizes actually shrink!!!! There is insufficient information. The ABS random sample size used was too small. So baby your feet might be too big… but we can’t tell from this data.









 Q2: Does the ‘average’ Aussie student have divine proportions?Da_Vinci_Vitruve_Luc_Viatour

 The Vitruvian Man is a world-renowned drawing created by Leonardo da Vinci around the year 1487. This sketch supposedly represents the perfect proportions in man. Measure Height and Belly Button Height of Vertruvian man. Divide his Belly Button Height by his full height.

We will call this the DIVINE FRACTION. 

How do Aussie Students compare? You have the data needed to calculate the DIVINE FRACTION for each year level.



Q3: How do the average heights of our  students  compare to students in other countries?

If we could took a very, very large number of student heights they would produce the graph below. It is a NORMAL DISTRIBUTION or A BELL CURVE. The curve below is for young adults in the USA. We do not know the actual number of students for each height.  

ADVANCED MATHSPIGS; You will find more data, a cute bar graph using students  and some interesting bimodal graphs (combining the Bell Curves for Female and Male heights) @#mce_temp_url#

How do Aussies compare? See the graphs below. We do not know how many students are involved. We can only say  our average Year 12 student is taller than the majority of their students!!! Ha! HA! If, that is, the data is reliable and the foot sizes suggest maybe NOT.

basket ball height Correction



height bell curve Correction


 Q 4:  How does the average height of  Aussie students for each Year level compare with celebrities? 

The pics and some stats come from The Sunday Age ( Coming Up Short 13th Sept 2009) . Here are some celebrity heights:

Lou Reed, Rock Star    1.65m

Nicolas Sarkozy  French President  1.65m

Napoleon   1.68 m

Syvester Styllone Actor 1.70 – 1.79m (No one is sure.)

Andrew Bogut, Aussie Basketball Champ (Pictured) now playing for the Milwaukee Bucks 2.13m

Tom Cruise, Actor  1.70 m

Katie Holmes, Actor  1.75 m

Nicole Kidman, Actor  1.79mmrocky

Keith Urban, Singer   1.78 m

Aaron Sanderlands and Peter Street, AFL Players    2.11 m

Gary Ablett jnr, AFL Brownlow Medal Winner 2009  1.80m

Roger Federer, Tennis Star    1.85m

Michael Phelps, Olympic Swimmer   1.95m

Grant Hacket, Olympic Swimmer  1.98 m

Liesel Jones, Swimmer  1.78 m

Tyrone Smith, Rugby Union, 1.78 m

Digby Loane, Rugby Union   1.79 m

Cate Blanchett, Actor  1.74 m

bell curve2 Correction


What are maths teachers for, sir?

July 17, 2009

A major fast food firm, all right, McDonald’s has put the entire Australian Year 7 – 12 Maths curriculum on line and it is FREE!!! #mce_temp_url#

I never thought I’d be enthusing over McAlgebra or McTrigonometry or McX, but this site has been recommended to me by maths teachers and it looks great. Students can view worked examples of maths problems, hear the problems solved step-by-step, work at their own pace and even track their progress through the website.

macca's CorrectionConfused_tns  

  If the entire maths curriculum can be accessed for free on line what ARE maths teachers for? 

  Gather round mathspigs and I will tell you why we need maths teachers. 

  Maths is boooooring for the majority of students. It needs a maths teacher to breath fire into the concepts to make them interesting, relevant and exciting. Otherwise, students feel maths is on a par with re-translating the dead scrolls. 

Mathspig’s mission is to provide maths teachers with fun, pop-culture based, media-savvy maths to excite students about the whole idea of maths. These topics can be used by maths teachers in the same way retailers use ‘loss leaders’. Get them in the door and you can sell ’em anything…. almost!!!!!!

Math_tns  Since maths teachers often moan about students not knowing their tables… here is a COOL MATHS GAME called

  MATH LINES : X-FACTOR which is all about using your knowledge of tables …quickly.  #mce_temp_url#

 This is how I would use it in the classroom. Get this game up on the Smartboard and call kids up one at a time to have a go!!!!!! It’s fun.

  And it is FREE  x FREE = FREE !!!!!!!!