The 400-year-old Kepler Conjecture that your local greengrocer knows how to solve

22 06 2017

This afternoon the second meeting of the “Mathematics Matters @ UTS” Club will occur. 

I intend to share this article with those attending, as I endeavour to foster the enthusiasm I hold for many things mathematical.

Dan Meyer spoke on Fake World Maths at NCTM this morning

18 04 2015

The presentation was most entertaining and informative.

Dan demonstrated modeling using the decisions involved in making a  local delivery company as efficient as possible. He outlined the criteria used to decide which drivers were more likely to have an imminent accident and shared the monetary saving made by just shaving 1 mile off the route of each driver per day. It just goes to show that lots of lite bits can amount to huge results.
He then analyzed the modelling questions in textbooks which need to 

In reality the questions mostly only allow the students to perform operations and interpret results. The only questions validated were probability questions. 

Teachers need to fill the gaps of such questions and set the scene and then ask the students what information they need to solve the problem without giving the information, initially.
He showed a brilliant video on 2 ways of climbing a set of stairs and estimating the time taken to complete the second climb. 
He encouraged estimation with calculation to validate the processes used. 
He then showed this (as given to a primary class) 

who were then shown


in order to guess the total number of cheese balls present. When told they were wrong a conversation ensued as to which assumption lead to the faulty logic. 

He made reference to the Estimation 180 website for information for further problems and suggested we use our phones to video situations such as peeling a potato in order to get data to estimate the time taken to peel a bag of potatoes etc. He also suggested that we use the curiosity of others to ask different questions about the real world and hence raise the interest and confidence in maths.

Thank you Dan for stimulating us to reexamine and change the questions we ask and provide in our classroom. 

Multi Dimensional Mathematics by Jo Boaler and Conrad Wolfram

10 02 2015

This post details the dimensions of Mathematics and what students miss in the classroom. Enjoy.


Distance Problem From a Recent Drive

19 04 2014

Bega is 35km from Merimbula and Tathra is 26km from Merimbula. If Tathra is 19km from Bega, how is this so?


Slurpee for $2.90

8 09 2012

My classes were all talking about 7-eleven’s Slurpees on Wednesday. Once we knew the diameter could be up to 23cm and the depth 28 cm I set them to calculating the capacity of a cylinder compared to a square prism. It made for a practical interlude to the lesson in both Year 11 and Year 9.

Shrink Plastic

28 08 2012

Each time I teach Similarity I give each member of the class a piece of shrink plastic approximately 5cm by 3cm in size. I get the students to trace the piece, measure its dimensions and then I allow them to draw a pattern on it, using permanent markers.

I then shrink the plastic in the oven, according to instructions and ask the students to remeasure the dimensions and calculate the scale factor. They can also calculate the area of both the original and the shrunk plastic. At the end of this, they are left with a keyring to remind them of their learning experience.

Cathy Freeman

25 08 2012

Here’s another practical use of Mathematics. Cathy Freeman ran 400m in 49.11seconds on 25/9/2000. That can be calculated as m/s or km/h etc.