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The Royal Game of Ur

Tuesday 1st May 2018

Yes, it’s May already and here is the latest Transum Mathematics Newsletter. I hope the year is going well for you and you are finding what you need on the Transum Mathematics website.

The puzzle for this month was inspired by the recent London marathon. Sue Watserface runs the first half at an average speed of 5 miles per hour. What speed would she have to run the second half of the course to attain average speed of 10 miles per hour for the whole race? (answer at end of this newsletter)

The new addition to the website in April that I am most excited about is the Transum version of The Royal Game of UR.

The Royal Game of Ur

My version is called Remainder Race. Players have to get seven counters around the traditionally shaped board and the number of hops they can make is determined by the remainder left when the number of the square their counter is on is divided by the chosen dice number. In addition to the numeracy skills required there are strategies to be discovered and excitement all round.

It is a game for two players or one player playing against the computer. I am keen to hear how well it works with your pupils. Please let me know.

After writing half of the code for the game on a long-haul plane journey into London, I made it my mission to visit the British Museum and photograph one of the two original game boards. They date from the First Dynasty of Ur, before 2600 BC, thus making the Royal Game of Ur one of the oldest examples of board gaming equipment ever found.

Filling a gap in Transum’s English National Curriculum coverage an online exercise called Furthermore has been created which provides practice for the skill of counting forwards or backwards in steps of powers of ten for any given number up to a million.

Nine Digits is an addition puzzle presented in eight levels of increasing difficulty. You can drag and drop the digits into place. At the time of writing already 78 trophies have been earned for completing the puzzle but no one has yet succeeded beyond level six.

Another new puzzle is called Cubical Net Challenge. Your mission is to paint the faces of the ten cubes represented by their nets. You have two colours, blue and red. No two cubes should look the same no matter which way round the cubes are turned.

Hexblock Hunter is an online game is inspired by TV's Blockbuster programme (are you old enough to remember that?) and targets lower Secondary/High school mathematical vocabulary. It works best with two players or two teams but the rules can be adapted to create an individual learning activity.

Finally the Privacy Policy has been up dated to specifically address the key features of the new European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) legislation which comes into effect later this month.

And now the answer to this month’s puzzle. I was lucky enough to be in London at the time of the marathon. The weather was great for the spectators but a little too hot for the runners.

The length of the London marathon is 26.2 miles but you didn’t need to know that to answer this question. The fact is that the time it would take to run any distance averaging 10mph would have been completely used up by running half that distance at 5mph so only an infinite second half speed would suffice!

Thanks to all those of you who provide feedback, suggestions and ideas for the Transum website. Your messages are very much appreciated.

That’s all for this month.


P.S. I don’t trust people with graph paper. They’re always plotting something!

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