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School of Hard Sums

Wednesday 4 June 2014

More Popular Maths

I have just watched my first episode of 'School of Hard Sums' and really enjoyed it. I dont live in the UK and so am playing catch up. It is another great example of what I put under the heading of Popular Maths and I am delighted that so many people are making an effort to get more people watching, thinking and talking about maths. Terrific. I want to watch more for sure and certainly before I make any general comments about the show. As ever though, my first thought is about how this sort of stuff can be used in schools. As I have said before, I always think the challenge is how to take this sort of media and focus on the maths involved and making this in to some sort of activity. Here is the you youtube clip I watched.

My focus is on the dancing problem. In short, if you are stood still in a dance hall and everyone kisses the person they are closest to, how can you position people so that you get the most number of kisses and what is the most number of kisses you can get? I liked this problem because I thought the context was fun - I can see playing musical statues with a class a few times. Secondly, I was interested in the three aproaches used to solve the problem, all of which were apparently different to mine. This is always the sign of a rich problem for me. As ever, it makes it more difficult to control which 'learning objective' can be taught in a given lesson, but I think that is a sacrifice worth making for the potential to get students using mathematical reasoning, testing, evidence gathering and so on. Perhaps also, there could be an activity that offers the different explanations as a starting point and asks students to discern between them. Either way there is a lot of potential and now I have more things I want to watch, do and plan! It is frustrating (lack of time) but exciting that there seems to be a never ending stream of possibilities in this profession! Thanks to the School of Hard Sums team - I am looking forward to more.


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