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Open Evening – The Psychic Maths Department

October 2, 2016

We had our open evening last Wednesday. It was very well attended and I wanted to share with you what we did.


I saw this sign on Resourceaholic who saw it on Blackpool Sixth Maths department’s twitter feed. Couldn’t resist borrowing the sentiment.

We are a big department so had two rooms to allow more space. In one room, we had:

  • Examples of year 7 students’ books from last year
  • Chess boards set up with current students to play against
  • Another student available to help students draw a hexagon using a protractor. The students then put their name and school on the hexagon and tessellated them on a wall (wish I’d taken a picture now)

In the other room, we had

  • Guess the lowest, unique, positive integer competition (Thanks to Resourceaholic again) which I’ll make a separate post about soon
  • A coordinate challenge (with students helping). This was designed by a current year 10 student (when she was in year 9) and makes a copy of the school logo


  • A ‘magic’ trick that I called “The psychic maths department”

I had three trays:


The visitors were invited to “Choose a tray, any tray”. Each one had 3 screwed up balls of three colours. Next, the visitor picks out a ball and reads out the number on it. They had to choose where to put the column of the colour that matched that ball, and then, in that column, where to put that number. This is repeated 8 times and the fact that there are so many choices is highlighted.psychic-maths

Eventually, you get to something like this:


Next, you give them the novelty, oversized calculator and get them to add up the three, 3-digit numbers. Onto our predictions:


(Next year I may work out how to make those shapes match the logo).

Then, reveal the predictions one at a time:


If you come to our school, I’ll help you work out how that was done.

There are a few subtle things that I think this activity does:

  • Shows that maths can be exciting and intriguing
  • Demonstrates that we know how to use interactive whiteboards as more than just projector screens
  • We use calculators when appropriate

I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts and I hope that’s inspired you for your own Open Evenings!

From → Game, Maths

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