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Three Trios of Triplets Thrice

Sunday 1st November 2020

Welcome to another month of puzzles, challenges and investigations. I hope you have recovered from Halloween and your pupils weren’t too scared by the 31st October Starter!

For this month’s puzzle I have chosen one that appeared in the Guardian online newspaper last week for which 72% of the people who submitted an answer got it wrong! What do you and your pupils think?

How many people is three trios of triplets thrice?

New Maths Learning Resource

While you are thinking about that here is some news about the latest additions to Transum Mathematics.

As soon as I have finished writing this newsletter I will upload a new exercise I was originally going to call Fraquations but have decided to call Equations with Fractions instead. Though my first idea was an original(?), snappy title it may ultimately make the activity hard to find in a search and, more importantly, may detract from correct mathematical terminology in the minds of pupils.

The self-marking exercise provides semi-randomly generated equations to be solved, each containing at least one fraction. There are a number of levels of difficulty and the resource provides practice both solving equations and working with fractions.

The very popular Random Student Generator has a new option called Wheel of Fame. Create a little excitement in the class as the spinning wheel slowly come to a stop and thereby selects a student at random.

Wheel of Fame


Which Operation is a new resource requiring pupils to decide which mathematical operation is required then use it to find the answers. Most of the questions provide a number that is not required to find the answer so reading for understanding is paramount.

There have been exercises on sequences and series on Transum for many years and now they are joined by a new set of exercises based around an understanding of the Sigma notation. The Greek capital letter as seen below is used to represent the sum of the terms of a sequence represented by an nth term formula. The exercise is aimed at older students in A Level and IB courses.

Sigma Notation Learning Resource


I thought Bonfire Night was just a British annual celebration but apparently the event celebrates different traditions on different dates, depending on the country. The British version, also known as Guy Fawkes Night, occurs on the 5th November each year and as far as I can remember used to be the only time of the year that fireworks could be seen. That is the reason the Starter called Firewords is scheduled for the 5th November. Judging by the number of comments on the page, the activity is surprisingly popular.

I think it is about time that I gave Refreshing Revision another mention. I actually use it in 90% of my lessons and customise it to ensure that relevant key facts and skills are retrieved and practised every week. It is a very useful resource due to the fact that the teacher can choose the number of questions, the topics of those questions and, as the name suggests, each time it is refreshed different versions of the chosen questions appear. It was nice to hear that it was part of Colleen Young's MathsConf session and that it even got a mention in a Mr Barton podcast and a Resourceaholic blog post this last month.

Refreshing Revision


Hiding in the help tabs of these exercises: AveragesSimilar Shapes and Box Plots, are new videos that were created in October. They are not intended to teach the topic from the beginning but will hopefully be useful to pupils who need a quick review.

Finally it might be worth reminding you that there are hundreds of exam style questions available on the site and you, as a Transum Subscriber, get access to the worked solutions. The number of questions has now just exceeded 500.

The answer to the puzzle of the month is 27 and not 81. Maybe solving a simpler problem would help highlight the mistake; something like two pairs of twins twice?

A ‘trio of triplets’ is 3 people not 9 so the correct answer is 3 x 3 x 3 = 27. How many of your pupils would realise that?


PS. Why did all the metres run from the 1000m race?

They were scared of the killer metre at the end.

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