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.
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.
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.
This is what the graph should look like.
Bob the Beetle moves very fast and students have to use available tools eg. phones to calculate his speed.
You’ll find the answer here.
Safety Lecture: Do not flick at anyone. But it is fun.
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.
More Maths on or around you:
*food snacks: nutrition information, calories, cost.
*medication: recommended dose, concentration eg. 5 mg, quantity, cost.
*room temperature: weather forecast.
*Light Bulbs: Watts, brightness (lumens, inverse quadratic function)
*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.
Leaning back on chair: Centre of Gravity. Watch out.
Sharpening pencil: Circular motion, sharpness of blade reduces force needed. Why?
Pens, books dropping on floor: Good old gravity. Works every time. Quadratic fn.
Fonts: Size. Based on statistics for readability. Watch the small print.
Jewellery: Geometric shapes & patterns, but also symmetry of diamond facets, weight of diamonds in carats, purity of gold in carats (different carat).
Zips: Interlocking pattern hopefully not interlocking with your skin.
Heating: Flow rate, cost, vent locations.
Architecture: Of building involves length, height, area and cost.
External Noise: Wall thickness. Sound proofing.
Rubbish: Recycling. Why do it?
Tights: You buy them using a height weight graph on the back of the packet.
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.
But Mathspig has always lerved Lego Maths. Here are just a few examples;
Other links to Lego Maths.
And while you are doing your Lego Maths you an also use the Lego Template to design your own Lego Figurine.
Download Template here.
Have fun peeps.
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
US Geological Survey here.
As the temperature of lava exceeds 10000 C there are very few ways to stop lava. According to the Taylor Kate Brown SMH (10 SEPT 2014) options include:
Blasting (it with cold water)
Or adding concrete.
Lava from Kilauea travels 17 yards per hour so the lava velocity is:
VL = 17 yds/hour = 15.5 metres /hour
Reading Undiluted Hocus-Pocus, the autobiography of Martin Gardener, mathematician and magician (He wrote the puzzle column for scientific America for years), Mathspig was bemused to read that statistician William Feller lived on Random Road in Princeton.
Mathspig totally confused Google Maps by searching for so many Maths streets, roads, drives, lanes and crescents. Mr Google began to think Mathspig was stuck on Infinity Street or lost at Cartesian Place.
There are nearly 100 Parisian streets, squares, boulevards etc. named after mathematicians and not necessarily French mathematicians.
Street names include:
There is, surprisingly, no street named after Fourier in Paris. But the street on which he was born in Auxerre has been renamed after this great mathematician.
Surprisingly, the most ‘mathsy’ place Mathspig has discovered so far is an outer suburb of Adelaide, south Australia. Maths street names include:
You can’t get lost in New York. It is a grid city.
Eg. 812 East 23rd St means No. 12, block 8 East of Broadway.
There is a Sine Rd in Auburn New York,
but it’s not this one. Pity!
Here is a fun Maths exercise to get Middle School students thinking about maths.
Ans. 1. Massey, NZ. 2. TRIANGLE. 3. State Ave 4. 0.7 miles, 1.1 km. 5. It has 3 right angles 6. 0.4 miles, 0.6 km. 7. No. The triangle is not a right angle triangle. 8. David W Carter Hight School) 9. Only 2 ARITHMETIC CR, Landon, SC and ARITHMETIC Dr, Salem, MA. 10. O.4 miles, 0.6 km.