## How fast are the planets?

Which planet is travelling the fastest in its orbit? Which is slowest? Is there a link between distance from the sun and how fast the planets travel?

Start by asking the students to come up with what information they would need to work this out. You can then take their ideas and if necessary lead them to working out each planet’s speed by doing the distance travelled in it’s orbit (assume circular orbits) and the time taken for one complete orbit (a planetary year).

You can Google the orbit radii and planetary year times in the lesson. Get them to convert the units; if the distance is in km, get them to convert to m; if the planetary year is in earth years, get them to convert to seconds etc. They could even use standard form to work with the large numbers involved.

This idea came from watching Mr S teach a lesson which was based on using pi in real applications. In fact, the task uses many areas of maths including speed = distance / time, units conversion, compound units and standard form.

An engaging using-and-applying investigation for a high-attaining group. Cheers Mr S!

## The Fibonacci Sequence in nature

Image by lucapost via Flickr

As the end of term draws near we are all looking for lessons to inject a bit of fun into the last two weeks of term. I need some display work for my classroom so am getting the pupils to create posters about the famous mathematician Fibonacci.

After introducing the Fibonacci Sequence, I then showed the pupils this presentation which shows where it turns up in nature. We also talked about Fibonacci and how he was actually called “Leonardo of Pisa” and how he brought the base ten number system to Europe. We also drew some Fibonacci spirals and then looked at the shape of a Nautilus.

The pupils were astounded by the presentation and it really inspired them. One of them even asked me “did God use the Fibonacci Sequence when he built all the universe?”! One of them then said “Sir, we are made up of Fibonacci numbers too; we’ve got 1 nose, 2 hands, 5 fingers etc…”. He then said he was going away to look at animals and see if they have numbers of limbs and features that were Fibonacci numbers. Isn’t this what we are aiming for in our pupils? Initiative, enquiry, curiosity, questioning. Great!

They have all gone away super keen to find out more about the great man and to gather things to put on their posters next week.

## Pure inspiration- nature by numbers

This has to be one of the very best videos I have ever seen to show the beauty and power of maths. Just imagine all the ways you could use this to inspire the kids.

## Making 100

Pupils write out the digits 1 to 10 like this:

1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10

The aim is to create an expression that equals 100 by putting as many + – X and / signs between the digits as they like. You might like to demo one like this:

1    2   3 + 4   5   6  X 7 / 8 – 9 = 123 + 456 X 7 / 8 – 9 = 513

Obviously this one is too high but it does illustrate the method. You can decide whether the pupils must use BODMAS or not (I’d suggest they do!) and whether they are allowed to put brackets in as well.

There are many solutions and you might like to post them in the comments section below when you find them!

Thanks to Cat for this engaging little starter. It might make a brilliant homework too!

Have fun!

## Taboo words

Thanks to Sarah for this brilliant way to assess understanding of concepts and maths vocabulary.

Split the class up into groups of 4-6. Each group gets a set of small cards which each have on them one maths related word. The first thing they have to do is write on each card, under the math related word which is at the top, three words that people will not be allowed to use when describing the top word. For example, if the top word is circumference then three words the team could write underneath could be circle, perimeter and length. The idea is to make the describing of the top word as tricky as possible. The words that they can’t use when describing the top words are called Taboo words.

The sets of cards are then passed onto another group and one person in the group gets 1 minute to describe as many of the top words as possible to their group colleagues without using the taboo words. The teams get a point for each correct word they guess. Each team has a go and the scores added up at the end to identify the winning team. You can do a tie-breaker round if necessary.

There are lots of variations you could do of this game and it does seem to really engage the kids and is an excellent way to revise key vocabulary and assess conceptual knowledge.

## Introducing algebra- consecutive numbers addition puzzle

Here’s are really good way of introducing algebra and getting across the idea of what a variable is. The pdf slides that you can use on the interactive white board to run this activity are here.

Start by getting the pupils to draw this diagram in their books:

## Mexican Wave Sequences

A great little game to make sequences fun!

Get the pupils into a horseshoe. Put up an nth term rule on the board. They have to do a mexican wave around the horseshoe but as they stand up they have to shout out the next term in the sequence. The first person is n=1, second person is n=2 etc… See if they can get all the way around the horseshoe without making a mistake. If they do make a mistake they have to start again! Increase the complexity of the nth term rules as you go along!

A great game as it reinforces the idea that the common difference is the coefficient of the n term.

Sorry, I can’t remember who put forward this idea but it is brilliant. Thank you!

## Wanna be in my gang?

A great little game to get kids thinking about types of numbers.

Think of a particular type of numbers that you want the pupils to guess. This could be square numbers, cube numbers, triangle numbers, even numbers etc… Tell the pupils that they need to guess a number between 0 and 100. If their number matches your hidden criteria then you say “you’re in my gang”. If the number doesn’t match your hidden criteria then you say “you’re not in my gang”. The pupils keep guessing until they work out what type of numbers you are thinking of.

Big thanks to Nicola for this great idea.