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Two-faced and Blue

Friday 1st January 2021

This is the first Transum Newsletter for 2021; a year which is the product of two consecutive prime numbers, but I'm sure I didn't need to tell you that!

January is named after the Roman god Janus who had two faces, one looking forward to the new year and the other one looking back. With two faces in mind I will begin, as usual with the puzzle of the month:

Twenty seven cubical boxes are stacked to make one very large cube as shown here:

Painted Cube

The outside faces of the large cube are painted blue including (unbelievably) the bottom!

How many of the original cubical boxes have exactly two faces painted blue?

While you think about that (the answer is at the end of this newsletter) here are some of the key resources added to the Transum website during the last month.

Christmas Symmetry Pairs was created just in time for the holiday along with the updating of many other Christmaths activities. I am guessing however that you have moved on from the festivities by now but it is something to remember for next year.


To complement the northern hemisphere's winter season a Snowflake Generator has been created with the notion that pupils 'play around' with it before attempting the challenges. I am hoping that some beautiful snowflake patterns will be created by pupils and that, with the use of complementary colours and superimposing designs, they will be complimented on their creativity. (I hope my spellings of complement and compliment were the right way round!)


Another idea that is certainly not new is creating pictures by plotting and joining coordinates. I'm sure most pupils will have done this at some time during their Maths learning. Unfortunately it is easy to get frustrated when doing this on paper if mistakes are made. The solution you have been waiting for is Coordinates Picture which does not allow pupils to make errors. If you want the paper version for a wall display the finished pictures can be printed and coloured in.

Graph Picture


Algebragons and Fractionagons were the last activities to be created last month. If you are familiar with Arithmagons you will understand the structure and may be able to use these resources instead of traditional fraction and algebra exercises. It has been said that there is no better way to present ideas of doing and undoing than arithmagons.



In addition to creating the Transum activities I also am the Honorary Chairman of a British Scouting Overseas District. For the District's end-of-year bulletin I create an interactive puzzle called Crossing The River. You are welcome to have a go at solving this puzzle too.


New videos have been created for Coordinates and Straight Line Graphs. I make these videos in the hope that they might help pupils learning at home who have forgotten previously learnt concepts.


Don't forget you can listen to this month's podcast which is the audio version of this newsletter. You can find it on Spotify, Stitcher or Apple Podcasts. You can follow Transum on Twitter and 'like' Transum on Facebook.


Finally the answer to this month's puzzle is twelve. If you have been teaching for a while you will probably have come across this puzzle as part of the Painted Cube investigation which has been around for at least fifty years to my knowledge.


Happy New Year to you, your family and your pupils. I hope 2021 brings you a jab, health and happiness. I also hope that a small part of that happiness comes from your use of the Transum online activities.



P.S. When looking back at last year with hindsight we can say we have 2020 vision!

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