Mathematicians can make mountains out of mince pies, but in this case Dr Eugenia Cheng, who is Professor of Pure Mathematics at the University of Sheffield, UK, makes it look fun. The video clip includes some great Middle School Maths that you can eat.

I started my maths workshop in Hamburg by stirring up some friendly rivalry. And what better way to do this than by using statistics.

Which is the biggest country?

Australia is 21.5 times the area of Germany. So I counted off 22 workshop participants and pointed to one saying ‘Your’re Germany! Ha!’ Here’s another way to compare areas:

Which country has the largest population?

Germany has 3.5 times the population of Australia.

But the really interesting questions are:

Who drinks more beer?

Who eats more meat?

Here are the answers to these and other interesting questions from the introduction to my workshop with apologies to Brisbane and Perth:

Here are some amazing ways to make middle school maths AMAZING:

IMAGINARY is a German website where ART and MATHS combine. It is AMAZING.

Schools, museums, students, anyone can download interactive Computer Programs like MORENAMENTS (below) to create art, maths demonstrations and public exhibitions. IMAGINARY also contains maths/art films, an art gallery, programs for printing 3D-sculptures, maths texts and exercises, and more.

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It is FREE.

It is written in ENGLISH.

Here are a few highlights picked by Mathspig, but you have to explore the website yourself.

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SURFER

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SURFER is a program that allows you to put in any equation and test the resulting 3D image. There is a brief video explaining how it works and you can download the program here.

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WORKSHEETS

You can download worksheets for every school level, but get ready. Here is a worksheet for 5-7 year olds. But why not? Five year olds can look at sheet music without running away screaming, why not show them ALGEBRA too?

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Mathematicians Just Wanna Have Fun

The following videos show mathematicians having fun! If your middle-school students think maths is ‘boring’ show them just one of these videos.

Mathspig tried the m&m Algebra Challenge in her ICME 13 Workshop in Hamburg.

BUT … I bought PEANUT m&ms. OH Nooooooooo!

They were the WRONG SHAPE. Deformed m&ms bounced everywhere. All I could do was collect the m&ms in my gloved hands and hand them out to the workshop participants. They seemed to enjoy the failure.

But Mathspig does not give up that easily.

Here is the m&m ALGEBRA CHALLENGE with PLAIN m&ms.

The Great m+m ALGEBRA CHALLENGE

Method:

1. Open a packet of PLAIN m&ms. (Wear white Gloves like the m+ms)

2. TIP onto table. (Put a few books around the edge to define an area.)

3. Sort the m&ms into:

…m -UP pile.

…m-DOWN pile.

4. REMOVE the m-UP pile.

5. PICK up m-DOWN pile and TIP again.

6. REPEAT until only 1 m+m is left.

The pattern should follow the exponential equation here: