Summer Holidays are done. School is BACK in Australia. But how do middle school teachers get students excited about Maths? Here are some ideas.

“A growing body of research shows us that outdoor play leads to better physical and mental health, has positive effects on cognitive function and learning, and reduces the incidence of behavioural problems.” Maria Zotti, Nature Play, SA.

Peter Dunstan, Principal Kilkenny PS, SA, writes in SAPPA magazine, Primary Focus, that outdoor play fosters “wonderment, independence and freedom” as well as “social skills, imagination, creativity and problem solving”.

Inspired by SAPPA and NaturePlay, Mathspig has produced her own outdoorsy maths list:

The BBC 4 THE INFINITE MONKEY CAGE podcast How to Teach Maths hosted by Brian Cox and Robin Ince is soooo funny and informative. This is not just for Maths lovers. Included on the panel are comedian Sara Pascoe and the very numerate Prof Hannah Fry, maths comedian Matt Parker and statistician Prof David Spiegelhalter.

It is worth listening to Prof Brian Cox say he wasn’t so good at maths at school. But he loved PHYSICS. Prof Cox studied as a mature age student!!!!!!!!!

There has been a real world Witches Vs Zombie Fight.

The witches of the Haunted House in Salem, Massachusetts, are at war with the Zombies of The Nightmare Factory nearby. A witch tripped a Zombie who was wearing a straight jacket!!!! And … read it for yourself in the Daily Mail, UK.

Eddie Woo is an Aussie Maths teacher who runs his own Youtube Channel. So popular is this channel in October 2015, Woo won the NSW Premier’s Prize for Innovation in Science and Mathematics. This youtube clip won’t tell you where you will use surds, but it does something magical.

It compares surds to different kinds of music to help students understand why mathematicians go crazy over the concept of surds. This clip tells why maths is soooooo special. There is no guesswork or fake information in this maths. Maths must be accurate. And surds demonstrate this point. (Look for the 5 min mark)

Will you use surds in real life?

Maybe. Probably, not. But surds are used in mathematical programs that demand accuracy. eg. engineering skyscrapers, building satellite dishes, and even in video games. But you won’t see them. Like so much mathematics surds will be hidden in some algorithm.

Here are two Examples:

1. The Golden Ratio:

Often written a 1:1.61 the Golden Ratio or Fibonacci Sequence appears in art and nature and has an aesthetic appeal to the eye, but the accurate ratio is:

2. The Quadratic Function

Satellite dishes, headlights, torches, and bridges all designed using the parabolic arc. The parabola is defined by the quadratic function and sometimes solving for x produces an irrational no. namely a surd. Rounding off can introduce inaccuracies that can become more dramatic when scaled up to the sie of, say, a bridge.

3. The Golden Ratio in Music

Mozart arranged his piano sonatas so that the number of bars in the development and recapitulation divided by the number of bars in the exposition would equal approximately 1.618, the Golden Ratio. Find more @ CLASSIC FM.

Back to Mozart.

In the above diagram, C is the sonata’s first movement as a whole, B is the development and recapitulation, and A is the exposition.

And here is Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 1 in C Major as an example. Can you hear the Golden Ratio. Not really. But it’s there.

The DART(Double Asteroid Redirection Test) mission was launched on Nov. 23, 2021, atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

It is the size of a small vending machine and it has been travelling through space for 10 months.

As the weather improves – Spring in Melbourne, my city & Fall in USA & Autumn in the UK – it is an ideal time to take math outdoors. Here are some fab exercises for Middle School Math.

Lego Man soccer fields will vary in size depending on the height of each player picked by each student. This does your head in. It is really challenging maths!

You’ll find full calculations at the Maths is Fun blog.

You’ll find more fab outdoor junior and middle school maths activities at the terrific Maths and Movement blog.

Some students will discover their co-ordinate point is not on the grid. Students should then work out that they will need a different scale for the y-axis. You can get more inspiration at the Stand Again blog.