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New podcast: Maths Snippets

There’s a new maths podcast on the block called Maths Snippets. It’s recorded by Anda and Katie from Brix learning (@BrixLearning) and the first episode focuses on Ada Lovelace. It’s a good first episode, short and to the point. While it’s obviously no Wrong, but Useful, I still thoroughly recommend you go and listen to it!

Looking forward to the next one already. 

How funny are these jokes? Results!

In February, I asked people on twitter to rate some jokes so I could compare their responses with the responses of my year 12 stats students.

Here are the jokes:

  1. I used to train racing snails. One day, I took the shells off to see if they’d go faster. It didn’t really work and, if anything, it made them more sluggish.
  2. I can’t stand Russian dolls. They’re so full of themselves.
  3. I’ve always wanted a job putting up mirrors. It’s something I can really see myself doing.
  4. An ex-student of mine said he’d been doing a building course and could build me a ‘wishing wall’ in my garden. I thought, bless him. He means well.
  5. Here’s a site for sore eyes:
  6. Someone complimented me on my driving the other day. I got back to the car and there was a little sign saying “Parking: Fine”, which was nice of them.
  7. My cat’s a genius. I asked her what 2 minus 2 was and she said nothing.
  8. Somebody stole my mood ring. I’m not sure how I feel about it.
  9. Cheer leading exams are easy. You go in and shout “Give me an A”.
  10. I’m very good at maths. I understand 110% of it.

After being rated 324 on a scale of 0 (not funny) to 4 (hilarious) here are the average results:


(The one on the end is the 110% joke.)

If you’d like to see the raw data and the jokes in a word document, then there’s a link to a dropbox file here.

I got my students to rate the jokes themselves (they seemed to conclude they weren’t very funny). Then, they compared their ratings with the average score for each joke from the internet. Students also compared their ratings with another student to see if they had similar senses of humour or not.

Hexagons in nature and a Turtle question

I’m sure you’re familiar with the good old honey bees and their hexagonal structures. After a trip to the living rainforest, I found out that it seems that bees aren’t the only creatures that like their hexagons!

This tortoise has irregular hexagons on its shell. (Fun fact – tortoises shells aren’t watertight. If they get in deep water, they fill up and will sink. Tortoises are not turtles.)

img 1666


This lovely carpet python and lizard both have hexagonal skin! (I was disappointed that the python wasn’t 3.14 metres long.)

As I was looking at the turtles, I was struck by these numbers and their potential for a maths class.

Somewhat frighteningly, 17.4 tonnes of live turtles are shipped from Vietnam to China every day. If the turtles are 2kg each, how many is that? How many of our classrooms would this many turtles fill up? Would it fill the school hall? How many of them is this in a year?

What assumptions are we making in modelling these?

Is 17.4 tonnes a day plausible? How many turtles are there in the world?

It can be (legitimately) that they are given very little space and ‘we’ aren’t concerned about their comfort levels.

Wrong, but Useful episode 41

On this month’s episode, myself and @icecolbeveridge are joined by @evelynjlamb, who is Evelyn Lamb in real life. She writes the Roots Of Unity column for Scientific American.

Nice numbers

We discussed the idea of some numbers being ‘nicer’ than others. This really is a bit a weird topic and hard to describe but I think we all have an inner feeling of which numbers seem nice. You may have heard someone say, “ooh, let’s make it a nice, round number” for example. Alex Bellos has written about how people have favourite numbers and that the most popular choice is 7. My current favourite number is Belphegor’s Prime:


3s, 6s, and 9s

I also talked about taking a string of 3s (or 6s or 9s) and squaring it. See what happens.

33333² = 1111088889

15* kievs

We talked about when 15 = 16 or when 15 is a square number:

Some questions that came from twitter:

  • What are bounds for the radius of a kiev?
  • What’s the minimum number of kievs you might get in a bag?
  • How can they be so precise about the amount of salt in a kiev that seem to vary in size?
  • If the * is a power, what does it equal?
  • What percentage extra did I get?
  • How many chickens were harmed to make this bag?

A game or two (Two. It’s definitely two.)

I also made a hash of describing a game called Areamaze. Evelyn did a better job of describing Euclid, the Game. Try them yourself!

Thanks for listening. If you’d like to be on an episode, let us know.

TES resources 5*

As a member of the TES maths panel, I review resources periodically. Here are the highlights from this batch, all of which I awarded 5 stars to: (for reference, I look through about 50 resources so you can tell these ones are good!)

Dividing by Decimals by amurra8827

This is a very good resource. It has a lot of questions to do with decimal division and explores it in a sensible, understandable way.

Year 7 Place Value by mathshub

An exceptionally well planned power point with a clear level of deep understanding and thinking involved.

C1 and C2 revision cards by mrsmorgan1*

Absolutely excellent for revision. I can’t really believe I haven’t seen something like this before!

*I had credited this resource to someone else but they appear to have simply taken Jo’s resource and uploaded it as their own. I’ve removed my review for them and reported the resource.

They also inspired me to write and upload two new resources of my own:

Quiz for GCSE Maths Formulae to memorise

Frequency trees – exploration and explanation

And here are the ones I rated as 4 stars:

4 Times Table Mastery Check

A formula for Cubic Equations

Angles Rules in Regular Polygons (Exterior, Interior, Central, parallel lines)

AQA Further Maths – Unit 2 Algebra II – Rearranging Formulae.

Confidence Intervals demonstration on Excel

Exploring the equations of circles

Halloween Equations

Maths Grid Game

OCR Maths: Foundation GCSE – Check In Test 8.04 Properties of polygons

Order of Operations

Shadow Shapes


Christmaths Fancy Dress

It’s tradition for sixth form students and tutors to wear fancy dress on the last day of the winter term. Strangely, there isn’t much of a range of maths related fancy dress which means I have to make one. In the past, I’ve been a ruler and pair of compasses so, continuing the theme, this year I’m going to be a protractor.


Yes, that’s a custom made t-shirt:


The idea was mine and the design and printing was by Extra Mile Printing.

And the back….


As it happens, my daughter had to design and make a Christmas hat for her last day so I helped with the star:

Hope you like the costume and have a  great Christmas break.

TES Maths Panel – Top Resources – Oct 2016

Every so often, as part of the maths panel with the TES, I review a batch of resources. Here are my top ones this time.

***** 5 Star resources *****

Between the lines (UndergroundMathematics)

A challenging puzzle that will really push your KS5 and top end KS4 to think hard about their understanding of straight line graphs. Well structured with hints and prompts throughout.

GCSE Maths 10 minute assessments (manisha2011)

This is pretty self explanatory really. I liked the simplicity of this resource and the range of topics covered.

**** 4 Star resources ****

Commenting on Election Data – Core Maths (ecrae)

This is a resource aimed at the Core Maths (level 3) qualification but there’s nothing stopping you slipping it into the gcse course.. It’s a good resource as it makes students interrogate the data given and draw valid conclusions. I like the way it could be used to make students think hard about newspaper headlines.

GCSE Revision/End of term maths pub quiz (chris_cooper_25)

There are a lot of maths rounds covering a spread of topics. These are interspersed with some non maths rounds as well. It would probably have 5 stars except that you’ll need to update the general knowledge round and work out your own music round (or just abandon those ones).

Edexcel S1 Revision clock (Japleen Kaur)

Based on the recent wave of revision clock resources, this is set up for the edexcel S1 course. It’s a great idea and because A level questions are longer, it adapts the format to allow longer questions extra time by having two or more sections of the clock.

I hope you’ll check these out and maybe give them your own reviews too.