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Cube in Milk

Monday 1st September 2014

This is the September 2014 Transum Newsletter bringing you the latest news from Transum Mathematics. If you are in the UK or US it is 'Back To School' time while the rest of you it is 'Business as Usual'.

Talking of 'Back To School' it is the time teachers meet classes for the first time often with little or no information about the abilities and personalities of the pupils in front of them. There are some great starter ideas that work well with pupils of all abilities and quickly give you, the teacher, a very good idea of the mathematics they can remember. In particular BTS (Back To School) encourages pupils to write down equations of their own devising. A quick walk around the classroom while they are doing this activity will provide you with a wealth of information about how sophisticated their understanding of the subject is. You'll spot the pupils struggling to come up with even the most basic expression while the bright sparks will stand out with their ability to produce a great variety of equations involving not just the run-of-the-mill concepts.

Here is the puzzle of the month: Imagine a cube suspended from one vertex over a bucket of milk. Then slowly the cube is lowered into the bucket until it is completely submerged in the milk. What 2D shapes will it make in the surface of the milk from the point where it first touched the surface to the point where it is completely immersed? For the answer you will have to listen to this month's podcast!

Did You Know?

There are mirror sites for Transum containing all of the starters and activities but stored on different servers. As well as there is and ( is currently working too but is soon to be discontinued). The mirror sites provide you with reassurance that should go offline (it does happen from time to time) you can quickly switch to a mirror site to find the activity you need for your lesson.

Unfortunately your Transum account (and pupil trophies) only operate on so this is not a perfect solution but it's better than nothing right? Fingers are crossed that the server does not go down during the busy month of September. Our web hosts (called GoDaddy) have had a very good up-time record so far.

Last Month's Updates

Connect 4 Factors is a game, created at the beginning of August, which uses the 'four in a line' principle of the popular Connect 4 game but each of the counters contains a number and the twist is that four in a line means four numbers with a common factor (except one).
I have seen too many students that, while understanding the algebraic concept of factorisation, can not easily spot the common numerical factors. Hopefully this game might help improve common factor spotting ability. Games are such a nice change from exercises for practising mathematical techniques!

Chess has been added to the Strategy Games section. The interactive chess games comes with some mathematical puzzles that might interest your pupils. There's a Draughts game there too.

Circle Theorems are essential learning for pupils in upper Secondary and we have put together some big, bold diagrams of each of the important ones to support your teaching. The diagrams are accompanied by dynamic models powered by GeoGebra and Autograph.

Numerology is the final new activity for August. It's modestly hiding on the Fun Maths page as we are not really sure how teachers will decide to use it. It is still not in its final format but is fully working for testing. It is designed to inform pupils that the early mathematicians had some strange ideas about the mystic properties of numbers. It is also designed to make the notion of fortune telling questionable buy making the process transparent and a little ridiculous. The activity saves it self in the end however with some questions about the mode, mean and range of the pupil generated data. For the time being it can stay in 'Fun Maths'!

National Curriculum

Those of you in the UK might be embarking on a brand new scheme of work this term due to the new National Curriculum. Transum has a page of suggested activities for each curriculum statement. Click on the strands and statements  on our National Curriculum page to drill down to the activities.


Welcome to new subscribers from the UK, US, Australia, New Zealand and, for the first time, Guatemala. You are all very welcome.

Thanks to those of you who leave comments on the activities. It is really good to get your feedback. Positive comments provide a warm, satisfied feeling while suggestions for improvement often lead to an activity being redesigned.

Have a good September!


PS. Try to avoid doing calculus when you are thirsty. You have heard the warning, don't drink and derive!

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