Posts Tagged ‘Math’


ZOOM Math: 3D Animation …. USA units

July 4, 2020

Middle school students around the world have been learning maths via Zoom. ZOOM needs computers & WIFI. There are so many resources online but I cannot over-emphasise the amazing 3D skills developed just by playing with objects in TINKERCAD(See logo above. More info below) Anyone who wants to work developing video games or animated films has to understand the logic and maths of 3D. Read on. And it is more challenging than you might think.

1. Storyboard Sketches

The Pixar film, Finding Dory, began as storyboard sketches. There were 103,000 drawn for the film. The sketches are placed side-by-side in sequence in order to convey scenes and deliver a rough sense of how the story unfolds.

How many 64-page Exercise books would the storyboard take?

Only one side of the page of the 64-page exercise book would be used for storyboarding.

No. exercise books = 102,000/32  =  3,187.5

If put into flip Book form the storyboard sketches would produce a ‘rough’ version of the film.

Superman Vs Goku


2. Ratio

If you are making a film about, say, Godzilla, you want him to be big. VERY BIG. But he has to share a screen with human characters.

If Godzilla is too big all the humans look like ants.

If he is too small … he looks like a toy TRex.

The Monster Maths:

Height: 355ft  Godzilla’s towering height in the 2014 film—the tallest onscreen incarnation ever

Tail: 550ft 4in Total length of Godzilla’s spiked tail.

Volume: 90,000 tons Godzilla’s volume if filled with water

Teeth: 3.51 ft Length from the root to the tips of Godzilla’s canine teeth

Teeth: 60 Teeth in Godzilla’s mouth

Roar: 3 miles. Approximate distance Godzilla’s roar reverberates. (100,000W Power of the 12-foot-high, 18-foot-wide speaker array from which the sound designers blasted Godzilla’s roar to record the sound in a “real world” context)

Feet: 58ft  Total width of Godzilla’s feet across the widest point

Feet: 60ft  Length of Godzilla’s footprint from toe to heel

You vs Godzilla

The average height for 14-year-old boys in the U.S. is 64.5 inches or 5 feet 4½ inches.

For 14-year-old girls in the U.S. the average height is 62.5 inches or 5 feet 2½ inches.

Godzilla = 355ft

14 yo =  5’ 3”


355/5.25= 67.6 = 68

To make a 3D graph like this see below.


You vs Godzilla’s Footprint

60/5.25 =  11.4


You vs Godzilla’s Tooth

 3.5/5.25 = 0.7


3. 3D Modeling: Polygon Count

3D modeling can be approached in several ways. There is a good explanation here.

One method is to use a 3D scanner to produce a 3D mesh.

Godzilla model under construction

Digital Godzilla as 3D mesh

The mesh consists of polygons. You’ll find everything you want to know about polygons here.

The greater the no. of polygons the better the resolution in a 3D mesh, the better the resolution of the character or object as more shading and texture variation can be added.

So the POLYGON COUNT or POLY COUNT is a measure of the quality of an image.

Here are some POLY COUNTS:


500,000 polygons.

It took the 4 CGI artists 6 months to fully nail the texture of Godzilla’s scales. (See above)


Just the space station ran close to 3 trillion polygons.

Transformers 2

Devastator had 13 million polygons

Clash of the Titans

The Kraken had 7 million Polygons.


Apart from some bluescreen shots of live-action actors in cockpits, it’s all CG: gunships, missiles, smoke trails, water, fire, an army of photorealistic virtual characters, and a giant tree made of 20 million polygons with 1.2 million leaves.

More here.

Lord of the Rings – The Two Towers (2002)

(See below)

The Gollum head model consisted of just over 2,600 polygons, which were mostly quads.

More here.

Film Animation vs Game Animation

The POLY COUNT is always greater in animated movies than in video games mainly because a higher poly count takes longer and costs more. A higher resolution is needed in a movie as it is shown on a much bigger screen.

Gollum: Game vs Film 3D model

Here are some POLY COUNTS for some popular games:

The Amazing Spiderman

Spiderman – 11,652

Assassin’s Creed 3

Benjamin Franklin – 17,744

Charles Lee – 25,994

Connor Kenway – 28,501

Desmond – 14,934

Haytham Kenya – 19,985

Batman: Arkham City

Batman: Film Version

Batman: Game Model

Batman Beyond suit – 13,050

Harley Quinn – 17,731

Harley Quinn (DLC) – 19,110

Poison Ivy – 15,977

Call of Duty: Black Ops

Frank Woods (full gear) – 19,777

Crysis 2 (console)

Nano suit – 19,073

Multiplayer suit – 27,414



TINKERCAD is the free online resource that allows students to create their own 3D graphs – like Godzilla vs You (above) or 3D images that can be used for 3D printing. Play with the program. Mathspig had a little play and produced the genetically challenged chicken (below).

Tinkercad Dashboard

Find here.

Drag and drop shapes.

More here.

Play with shape dimensions.

More here.

Create figures for 3D printer.

MATHSPIG REPORT CARD: More playing with program needed!!!


Post- COVID … We need Middle School Maths that is, like, WOW!

June 9, 2020

10 Quick & Quirky Ways to Make the Maths Classroom Rock!


1. Tell a Story: Life, Death, and Geometry

This is middle school maths at its best. To understand Wild Fires you must understand the angle of a slope. REQUIREMENTS: Just this story and a white or blackboard to show how the fire speed changes with the slope angle. 

Background Story

On 5th August 1949 Wag Dodge was dropped by parachute with 14 other firefighters into Mann Gulch, a steep-sided gully in a Montana pine forest. Firefighters who parachute in to put out small blazes started by lightning are called Smoke Jumpers. As they worked their way down the sides of the gully the breeze was blowing away from them. But the wind soon shifted. This produced an updraft, which increases the speed of the fire front. The 15 Smoke Jumpers turned and started running for their lives uphill.

What you have to know

Heat rises and so there is a Chimney Effect pushing the fire uphill. The rule of thumb used by firefighters is:

Each 10º increase in slope, the fire front speed doubles. So a fire front traveling at 60 kph (37 mph) becomes a fire front traveling at 120kph (75 mph) moving up a slope of 10º.

What happened to the Smoke Jumpers?

When the fire front changed direction Wag Dodge and 14 other Smoke Jumpers found themselves running for their lives up a steep slope. What did Wag do next?

ANS: Here’s the amazing thing. Wag realised he could not outrun the fire at that point. So he stopped, took off his backpack, took out some MATCHES, and lit a fire in the grassy patch in front of him. Just before the firewall hit he threw himself face down on the burnt patch. He survived. The other 14 firefighters did not. You will find maths exercises here: METRIC UNITS and USA UNITS.


Requirements: SmartBoard to Project this link.

Try it first. You might be surprised.


3. Urban Myth Busted

Requirements: This story.

Goldfish Memory This is what Epidemiologists do. They find out if there are statistics to support the theory. These mathematicians have been providing vital information during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

According to the ABC news, this myth was busted by a 15-year-old Adelaide schoolboy named Rory Stokes. He fed his goldfish near a Red Lego brick. The fish started anticipating food near the brick. He took it away and replaced it several weeks later. The fish remembered the red brick!!! More here.

Other maths myths to check out:

Chewing food 32 times before swallowing helps you lose weight. Here.

You must drink 8 glasses of water a day. Here.

You are 6 degrees of separation from anyone in the world. Here.

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


4. Beat this! Drum Rates in BPM.

Requirements: A pencil and a timer on a phone.

Can students manage a drumbeat to popular songs? Here are some songs with their BPMs (Beats per minute listed). 

Tones and I     Dance Monkey  98 BPM.

The Rubens  Live In Life  104 BPM.

Lady Gaga      Bad Romance     118  BPM

……………….Just Dance          119   BPM

Flume   Rushing Back   176  BPM   (Try the middle of the track. It varies)

Panic! At the Disco      186 BPM   (Recommended by Jog.FM for jogging)

More DRUM BEATS and a story about Drummers’ Brains here.




Requirements: Phonebook.

Read the instructions at this link. Very simple. And you can amaze the students. Or Vice Versa. A student can amaze a maths teacher.


6.  Can you make a Square Bubble?

Requirements: pipe cleaners or stick cube and detergent and a bucket with water.

All ages love this exercise.

How? Read the link here.


7. Photo Scavenger Hunt

Challenge: Students use a smartphone to take 5 mathsy photos for homework. Ideas here.

However, start in the maths room. Look for parallel lines, angles, rectangles, spheres, parabolas (not in the textbooks). See parabola below.


8. Barcode Maths

Requirements: A product with a barcode.

Read this link and check the barcode.


9. Secret Code

Requirements: Box of matches, an accomplice.

Read this link and amaze the class.


10. Rolling coin Paradox & the Radius 

Requirements: 2 large coins. 20c in Australia, Half-$ USA or 25p UK.

Read this link first. It’s so counterintuitive.


The Rolling Coin Paradox that drove me Crazy!

June 4, 2020

The MindYourDecisions blog (Video below) presents the PARADOX beautifully. 

Now consider the example of the coin rolling around a coin of the same size. Intuitively we think …’OK. Same circumference, so the coin will rotate once as it rolls around a same-size coin. But this doesn’t happen. It rotates twice.


This observation is SOOOOOOOO counterintuitive we have to know why?


Mr. MindYourDecisions doesn’t explain why this happens. The answer is interesting. The relevant point in the ROLLING COIN PARADOX is the centre of the rolling coin. The rolling coin rotates about that point. And that centre (the red dot in the gif below) moves through a circle twice the circumference of the stationary coin. It is much easier to understand when you see it. (Below)


2020: A crazy year & a CRAZY number

May 18, 2020



Funny Aussie Covid-19 Graph

April 17, 2020

Mathspig found this on FB with no credits. But I know it is Aussie because ‘tracky daks’ is Aussie for ‘tracksuit pants’ or ‘sweatpants’.


Crazy Math: How to survive a Wagon Wheel Rolling over your head

March 26, 2020

There is some amazing Middle School Maths in The Cake Server on Joseph’s Machines. 

eg. Calculate the length of the arc of a circle to fit your HEAD! Watch for it.

Besides, this is so much FUN!


Australian Open 2020: Could YOU ….. return Roger Federer’s serve?

January 27, 2020

The Australian Tennis Open is being played at the moment and Mathspig is always amazed at the serve speed of the top-seeded players.

Here are some of the serves speeds of players in this year’s Men’s Open. 

Keep in mind the fastest female tennis serve by Barbora Záhlavová-Strýcová is a very respectable 225 km/h (140 mph).

Can you return Roger Federer’s serve?

NOTE: Andy Murray had the same serve speed as Roger Federer.

Go here to see why this simplified calculation works! 

Mathspig tested her reaction time here. TRY IT!

Mathspig’s best, best, best reaction time = O.33 sec

Could Mathspig return Roger Federer’s serve?


I’d be hit in the head by a speeding tennis ball

before I even moved.

But I’m a pig. I’ve got the best service GRUNT! Ha!


_______ Politicians vs Reality ______ Why BACK-to-BASICS Maths FAILS

December 8, 2019

“There are many such examples of excellence across Australian schools. But there are not enough. While individual schools might shine, the results of international tests, released earlier this week, suggest our education system as a whole is stagnating. For the first time, Australia failed to exceed the OECD average in maths, and the nation’s results in reading and science have declined since Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) testing began in the early 2000s.” More here.

What about SINGAPORE?

Meanwhile, SINGAPORE students do well in maths because they have very ENTHUSIASTIC teachers. If you want to see how Singapore and other countries promote maths in the classroom go to Maths News: Around the World from International Congress of Mathematical Education 2016.

Here we go again!

I wrote the following post in 2014 and here we are, 5 years later, back where we started. 

Louis CK Quote


Is maths becoming a dead language?

mathspig fractionsIn the 1980’s American restaurant chain A&W was going to kick Mcdonald’s marketing butt. How? Instead of a quarter pounder burger they brought out and promoted a third pounder!!!! The promo failed. Why? Americans didn’t get fractions. More frightening, in Why do Americans stink at maths?, Elizabeth Green, The New York Times ( 23 JUL 2014), was the US study that found 17 percent of medication errors were caused by maths mistakes made by doctors or pharmacists.

Meanwhile, students in Australia, the USA, and the UK are dropping out of maths like flies.

Something is seriously wrong with the way we teach maths.


Vote 1 Me. (Probably can’t count to 2 anyway.)

vote slip 2

Politicians around the world use education to win votes. We will raise numeracy standards they promise. Of course, this may not help your child, just the state averages.

Nevertheless, Back to Basics concepts are constantly pushed in the UK, the USA, and Australia by politicians.

us flagIn 2009 Obama backed “common standards” and “common core” curriculum in maths supported by $USA 4 Billion in grants. (Why do Americans stink at maths?, Elizabeth Green, The New York Times, 23 JUL 2014).



uk flagLater this year a new ‘Back to Basics’ Curriculum will be rolled out in the UK with an emphasis on times tables and mental maths. (Schools must go back to basics to raise maths standards, Graeme Paton, The Telegraph, UK, 18 FEB 2014)


aus flagAustralia has introduced a National Curriculum and National Testing (NAPLAN) in numeracy and literacy in recent years. The current government just put up $22 million to back Direct Instruction in Indigenous Schools across Qld, NT and WA (Noel Pearson’s learning engine, Jamie Walker, The Australian, 5 JUL 2014) Direct Instruction is a commercial product involving very rigid and proscriptive Back to Basics curriculum and testing program from National Institute of Direct Instruction based in Eugene, Oregon.

Teachers use strict guidelines and must keep within the program. Eg:

Picture 2

Picture 3……………………………………

Do back to basics programs work?

Maybe. It depends on what you are measuring. Students can improve some maths skills. The worksheets are very clear and that is to be applauded. And so, in time, standards may rise on paper.

But there are still two huge problems.


We have ways of teaching to make you hate maths!!!!

Firstly, there is the McMath Element. Do you want Pythagoras with that quarter pounder? Repetitive, pre-packaged, parrot-style learning is easily forgotten. According to Professor Roediger professor of psychology at Washington Uni ‘effortful, varied practice builds mastery’. (How tests make us smarter, New York Times, 18 Jul 2014).

Secondly, rigid drilling is boring. Students grind through the exercise after exercise being constantly reminded that maths is dry, dull and boring on a coma-inducing scale. Students will, as is the current trend, drop maths as soon as they can.



Why do some kids think maths is a cruel and unusual punishment?

According to Peter Sullivan, Professor of Mathematics Edu at Monash University students drop maths because it is:

not related to the real world,



and restrictive.

See STOP THE PRESS: Maths Teaching Fails

But it is not just students who find maths boring. Teachers who are forced to adopt rigid, repetitive and monotonous prepackaged courses also become disillusioned.


One size does not fit all and local knowledge counts

Grade 3Elcho Island MapI’m sitting in a Grade 3 classroom in a remote Indigenous School on Elcho Island off the coast of NT. (Last week I ran some fun/creative workshops for staff.) The young enthusiastic teacher (with the help of two indigenous interpreters) was teaching the students to count to 10 and write the numbers from 1 – 10.

Students arrive at school speaking only the local Indigenous language. They must acquire literacy skills in their own language before they are taught English in Grade 4. There is a good deal of catching up to be achieved in numeracy skills. Many Indigenous languages only name the numbers 1, 2, 3 and many. The teachers on the island are familiar with the difficulties facing their students and work hard with empathy and enthusiasm to overcome multiple disadvantages of their students.

Teachers on the island have developed extraordinary resources and create programs to engage their students in learning maths. Imposing a rigid curriculum regime like Direct Instruction on Elcho Island schools will further disadvantage the students and also demoralize the dedicated staff.


Ways of teaching maths that work

Here are two teaching methods that are not only flexible and fun, but they have also been proven to work in the classroom.

The Walker Learning Approach

Walker learningKathy Walker is an Australian educator, author and early years curriculum expert. Her books include What’s the Hurry? and Play Matters. The Walker Learning Approach, which is used in many schools around Australia including Elcho Island, is an evidence-based strategy that encourages play-based discovery and learning as well as explicit instruction in numeracy and literature (K – Year 8). More here.


Magdelene Lampert: Learning by Communication Method

teaching probMagdalene Lampert, until recently professor of education at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and author of “Teaching Problems and the Problems of Teaching, has replaced ‘answer-getting’ with ‘sense-making.(Why do Americans stink at maths?, Elizabeth Green, The New York Times, 23 JUL 2014)

She advocates incorporating communication in maths as ‘being able to explain your thinking so that someone else grasps your ideas’ improves your understanding ( as any teacher knows from their own experiences in front of the classroom.)



Mathspig Pedagogy

Yeah! MATHS: Guaranteed to be boring one day and scary the next but always a complete waste of time – there’s a product that’s not going to sell.

Let teachers teach. This should be a campaign slogan to put maths teaching back into the hands of the people, who know what is going on in the classroom. Imposing rigid regimes on teachers is counter productive as the teachers become as bored, as angry and as disenfranchised as their students. I mean ‘why bother?’ We need teachers with passion, enthusiasm and creativity to teach maths, not Mathsbots pre-programmed by politicans to win votes.

Politicians do not teach your children. Teachers do. If politicians and the bureaucracy make teachers lives miserable, this misery will be passed onto their students … Your children. There must be checks and balances – and cliches, I guess – but it is the teacher who passes on their love or hatred of maths to your children. If the community gives teachers the chance to teach maths creatively and with humour, they will take up the challenge and your child will benefit.

Mathspig Let Teachers Teach

I was taught by a young and enthusiastic Maths teacher at a small rural hgh school in the sixties. That’s almost 50 years ago – OMG! Don’t do the maths. His name was Barry Underhill.

Mathjspig a gogo 1I’m Mathspig. And I love maths.


Amazing and Terrifying Wildfire Maths . . . . . . . . . . . . . . USA UNITS

November 13, 2019

mathspig-smoke-jumpers With the catastrophic Californian fires burning into November and wildfires currently burning in NSW and Qld, Australia, I had to repost this firefighter maths for middle school classrooms.

Radiant Heat Stats WA Fire Dept FACEBOOK, Australian Bushfires 14 NOV 2019 MyFireWatch WA

 Wildfires USA 2019 Map: Ecowest,




Background Story

On 5th August 1949 Wag Dodge was dropped by parachute with 14 other fire fighters into Mann Gulch, a steep-sided gully in a Montana pine forest. Fire fighters who parachute in to put out small blazes started by lightening are called Smoke Jumpers. As they worked their way down the sides of the gully the breeze was blowing away from them. But the wind soon shifted. This produced an updraft, which increases the speed of the fire front. The 15 Smoke Jumpers turned and started running for their lives uphill.



Time Trial:

Mark out a 30ft course. Make 3 time trials.

t1 =

t2 =


Average your time:

tav = (t1 + t2 + t3)/ 3 =

Your Speed S = 30/tav   ft/sec



This will, of course,  vary depending on the wind speed. A typical grass fire in Australia in a flat area can travel at 12mph (up to 20mph) in a gentle breeze.

Fire Front Speed Grass Fire

Fire Front Speed = 12 mph = 12 x 5280/(60 x 60)

                           = 17.6 ft/sec

                           = 18 ft/sec



Average Running Speed Boy 13–14 yo = 10 ft/sec

Average Running Speed Girl 13–14 yo = 8 ft/sec

We’ll assume, boy or girl, that you are really motivated and can run away from the fire at top speed of 10 ft/sec and -Wow! – this is easy math. Now calculate the distance you can run and the fire front moves in 10 secs intervals up to 1 minute.


This is not looking good. See more Firefighters Need Maths here.

We can do very accurate calculations using simultaneous equations. Wildfire Algebra: Detailed Worksheet using simultaneous equations and solutions  here.



We’ll assume, due to being motivated by having a fire licking your heels, that you can run at your top speed up hill for a short time, at least. But here is the problem.

Heat rises and so there is a Chimney Effect pushing the fire uphill. The rule of thumb used by fire fighters is:

Each 10º increase in slope, the fire front speed doubles.


Now you can calculate the distance travelled up a slope at a 30º angle.

Don’t forget you can use the WEB 2.0 Calculator here


Even at your top running speed, which is unlikely up a slope, you can run 1080 ft in 1 minute. In that time the forefront has moved 8640 ft or 1.6 miles. It depends how far away you are from the fire front when you start running, but it seems likely that you cannot out run this fire front.

Again we can do very accurate calculations using simultaneous equations.

See Firefighters Need Maths here.

Wildfire Algebra Worksheet and solutions  here.


High winds can turn a bush or forrest fire into a WILD FIRE with wind speeds up to 70 mph and temperatures up to 2000 °C, which can and does melt glass and cars.

The fire front speed doubles with every 10º, so speeds for the fire front in a strong wind can reach 140 mph, 210 mph and up to 280 mph.


What happened to the Smoke Jumpers?

When the fire front changed direction Wag Dodge and 14 other Smoke Jumpers found themselves running for their lives up a steep slope. What did Wag do next?

ANS: Here’s the amazing thing. Wag realised he could not out run the fire at that point. So he stopped. Took off his back pack. Took out some MATCHES and lit a fire in the grassy patch in front of him. Just before the firewall hit he threw himself face down on the burnt patch. He survived. The other 14 firefighters did not.


Braindead Math for Halloween

October 29, 2019

Tarantino, being a connoisseur of Fake Blood, used several types of Fake Blood in the film Kill Bill II ranging from good splatter to free-flowing blood. According to one fanzine, in this film, Uma Thurman killed 88 opponents with a sword.  So the numbers(above)are in the right ‘blood-soaked’ ballpark. More survival math (The Hunger Games) here.