Algebra! Many students struggle with algebra because they see no point doing it. But here is the best fun with algebra you’ll ever have. It is so counter intuitive that you have to see the algebra to believe this trick. Mathspig tried this exercise out on school teachers at her ICME 13 workshop in Hamburg and this is the result filmed – with a few lighting wobbles – on an iphone.

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.