In every 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? (See movie cliché busted by maths here.)

Now a lava flow from Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano is threatening tiny town of Pahoa, Hawaii again. (below).

You will find excellent information about the Kilauea and other volcanoes at the

As the temperature of lava exceeds 1000^{0} C there are very few ways to stop lava. According to the Taylor Kate Brown SMH (10 SEPT 2014) options include:

Bombing

Blasting (it with cold water)

Barricading it

Or adding concrete.

What if you are on your own.

Can you out run lava?

Lets do the maths.

Lava from Kilauea travels 17 yards per hour so the lava velocity is:

The Maths Mystery Box is a great treasure chest to take into maths classes. It can be used an an extension exercise or to engage some disengaged students.

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The IDEA is to use concrete objects and write a maths problem to go with the object. (See examples below) The appeal of the MATHS MYSTERY BOX is that it involves CONCRETE THINKING, sort of. All text books involve ABSTRACT thinking, which some students do not like.

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A student picks a maths problem from the box. A problem can be simple or complex. But it is not just a maths problem. The student gets to hold an object in their hand. They have to devise their own method of approach. And they must be resourceful. ie. use equipment at hand eg. their phone as a stop watch. Students like this activity. Even maths teachers like this activity as Mathspig found out at her workshop in Hamburg.

One reason why students think maths is a waste of time is because they do not see it in their world. It’s not just middle school students. We are all maths blind.

Here is the challenge. At the beginning of your next maths class:

Ask your students what ‘mathsy’ thing they have on them and see what happens. Mathspig started her ICME 13 Workshop with that question and maths teachers from around the world struggled to answer. Here is what happened.

More ideas below.

Note: I missed the significance of ‘Standing on the Shoulders of Giants’ Quote. It was from the great mathematician Sir Isaac Newton, 1776.

*Flooring: Wood (parallel lines), carpet (tessellations), coefficient of friction (Don’t want people to slip in the wet).

*Windows, doors: Hinges (Fulcrum, Effort as a Hyperbolic function), opening/closing door is an equation of a circle, angles, fly screens (pattern), windows (pulleys sometimes), handles (knob or lever impacts on effort)

Table/desk/chair: Based on statistics to fit majority of students.

In Australia we don’t get too carried away with 14 March aka Pi Day aka 3.14.16 because, unlike Americans, we do not write the date as 3/14/16. We prefer 14/3/16.

No problem.

Meanwhile Mathspig called her upcoming talk for the International Congress of Mathematical Education 2016 in Hamburg:

Then odd emails arrived relabelling my talk ‘…….. p-in-your-face funny!’

I thought it was a typo. Not so! The Germans, the Dutch and other European countries do not call π ‘Pi’, they call it ‘P’ or ‘Pee’ because ‘i’ is pronounced ‘ee’, for instance, in German. So I had called my great international maths talk Pee-in-your-face funny! And the German organising committee seemed happy enough with the title.

To be diplomatic and to avoid the attracting the wrong type of audience I’ve retitled my talk:

How many m&ms would kill a 14-year-old? Making middle-school maths real, relevant, deadly serious and ha^2 funny!

So Happy π Day English speakers and now, for a laugh, look at some of our Pi or Pee jokes through the eyes of, say, a German.

That’s because of the beer.

One whole day dedicated to pi.

It’s epic!

Mathematicians in love .., awwww!

So cute or they’re pissed.

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OK. ‘I 8 sum pi’ but adding the ‘delicous’ makes this weird for a German. D’Oh!

Very expensive bottle of pi.

Mmmm! Pecan pi.

Rabbit Pi must be a problem.

Dessert wine, maybe?

That’s, like, every day after a night out on the ‘piss’ as we so delicately call it in Australia.

You too can have tasty pi. I don’t know how and frankly, I don’t want to know.

In 2012 The New York Times ran an article by Andrew Hacker titled ‘Is Algebra Necessary?’ The argument was, basically, that too many students find algebra difficult and colleges in America use math results to screen students thus further disadvanting already disadvantaged students. The author had a point. eg. Of all who embark on higher education, only 58 percent end up with bachelor’s degrees. The main impediment to graduation: freshman math.

Perhaps, algebra could be taught in a different way. Mathspig was inspired by New York Grade 3 teacher, Alycia Zimmerman, who uses Lego to teach fractions (See next post) and came up with the following examples.

In every 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? (See movie cliché busted by maths here.)

Now a lava flow from Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano is threatening tiny town of Pahoa, Hawaii. (below).

You will find excellent information about the Kilauea and other volcanoes at the

As the temperature of lava exceeds 1000^{0} C there are very few ways to stop lava. According to the Taylor Kate Brown SMH (10 SEPT 2014) options include:

Bombing

Blasting (it with cold water)

Barricading it

Or adding concrete.

What if you are on your own.

Can you out run lava?

Lets do the maths.

Lava from Kilauea travels 17 yards per hour so the lava velocity is: