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Category: Thoughts about maths thinking

Anything about the thinking processes required to learn and do maths, especially those about problem-solving and communicating.

The Operation Tower

I don’t like BODMAS/BEDMAS/PEMDAS/GEMS/GEMA and all of the variations on this theme. I much prefer to use something else, which I have this week decided to call “The Operation Tower”.

In case you haven’t heard of BODMAS/BEDMAS/PEMDAS/GEMS/GEMA, then you should know they are various acronyms designed to help students remember the order of operations that mathematics […]

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Digit Disguises

This blog post is about a game I invented this week, and the game is AWESOME, if I do say myself.
DIGIT DISGUISES: A game of algebraic deduction
Players:

This game is designed for two players, or two teams.

Setting up:

Each player/team has two grids with the letters A to J, one labelled MINE and one labelled THEIRS, like the […]

Posted in Isn't maths cool?, One Hundred Factorial, Thoughts about maths thinking | Tagged |

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Context fatigue

Context fatigue is a particular kind of mental exhaustion that happens after having to make sense of multiple different contexts that maths/statistics is embedded in. I feel it regularly, but I feel it most strongly when I have spent a day helping medical students critically analyse the statistics presented in published journal articles.
The problem with maths […]

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Struggling students are exploring too

I firmly believe that all students deserve to play with mathematical ideas, and that extension is not just for the fast or “gifted” students. I also believe that you don’t necessarily need specially designed extension activities to do exploration — a simple “what if” question can easily launch a standard textbook exercise into an exploration.
This […]

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Trying maths live on Twitter

Once upon a time, I decided I would be vulnerable on Twitter. As part of that, when someone posted a puzzle that I was interested in, I decided that I would not wait until I had a complete answer to a problem before I responded, but instead I would tweet out my partial thinking. If […]

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Tutorials for an intro Arts course: Story makes sense of number

The Story
Sometime in the past, I was approached by academics in the Faculty of Arts to discuss the numeracy skills of the students in their faculty. They wanted to discuss how they might include numeracy skills in some of their courses across all the degrees they teach. It was a lot bigger than the MLC […]

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The second part of the Four Fours

The Back Story
The four fours is a rather famous little puzzle which goes something like this:
Using exactly four of the number 4 each time, write calculations using +, -, *, / that produce each of the natural numbers from 0 to 20.
It’s a classic puzzle that requires some creativity and also gets people thinking about […]

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The Seven Sticks and what mathematics is

This week I provided games and puzzles at a welcome lunch for new students in the Mathematical Sciences degree programs. I had big logic puzzles and maths toys and also a list of some of my eight most favourite puzzles on tables with paper tablecloths to write on.
One of the puzzles is the Seven Sticks […]

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Zooming in to see the slope

A lot of people introduce the derivative at a point as the slope of the tangent at that point, which to me is quite confusing. It seems to me that the reason we want the derivative is that it is a measure of the slope of our actual function at that point, not the slope […]

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The Number Dress-Up Party

I created the Number Dress-Up Party puzzle way back in 2017 and every so often I stumble across it again when searching Twitter for other stuff. When I stumbled across it today, I decided it was time to write it up in a blog post.
The puzzle goes like this:
The Number Dress-Up Party
All the numbers have […]

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