It’s great to see the updated Victorian Maths Challenge site is full of activities for families to try at home in 2017 and beyond.
An exciting maths event was recently staged at Red Cliffs Primary School for students in grades 3 to 6 and their parents and family members. On the night, the Victorian Maths Challenge was introduced. Four of the available Challenges were highlighted and then the activities began.
Some teams made fabulous paper planes and these were then taken to the nearby basketball court for testing. In another space, there was a great deal of serious thinking and discussion going on while very tall paper towers were being constructed.
Over in another space, imaginative and interesting symmetrical patterns were being created with materials that were made available.
Meanwhile, some other parents and students took part in the Right Direction Challenge which involves giving directions to a partner whose eyes are covered. During the evening many family teams participated in more than one Challenge. The originality of the participants was very impressive as were their discussions around the mathematical ideas underpinning the Challenge.
Principal Rod Beer and teachers provided great support for the evening. They were very generous with their time and help. Parents, families and students who attended are also to be commended for their enthusiasm and interest. Check out more pictures from Red Cliffs Primary School in the Gallery.
At Port Melbourne Primary School, students and their families recently had a blast exploring the Victorian Maths Challenge (VMC).
As an introduction to the VMC, parents and other family members were first asked to think about how maths was taught in the past. Some grandparents recalled sitting in silence, in single desks writing out equations on paper. Some parents shared similar experiences, noting that they never got the chance to engage in fun, real-world tasks when doing maths at school. In contrast to these past learning experiences, the VMC offers participants the chance to engage in collaborative, hands-on and open-ended tasks. Not surprisingly then, it was with a lot of enthusiasm that the Port Melbourne Primary families took on the different challenges on offer.
For the Eureka Challenge, students and their families created in depth plans after thoughtful discussions around what maths they could apply to beat the existing Eureka Tower record of 2.83 metres high. After talking about the importance of stability and balance, the participants decided to put more weight at the base of their towers to stabilise and strengthen them. They also considered the importance of perfect right angles on either side of their structures to ensure balance. Thinking about 3D shapes, they also decided triangular pyramids, cubes and cylinders would give strength to their towers.
Before tackling the Paper Planes Challenge, students and their families discussed factors that impact a smooth flight. They talked about thrust – the forwards force generated when a paper plane is thrown (in a plane an engine generates thrust), gravity – the downwards force which pulls the paper plane towards the ground, drag – the force that slows planes down due to air resistance, and lift – the force that pulls the plane towards the sky (when the plane flies forward, the air that moves under the wings provides this upwards force). Following these discussions, the students and their families made their paper planes.
Students then thought about how they would measure the distances flown. They thought about using their feet, a measuring wheel, metre rulers and estimation. Most students estimated a large step was approximately a metre in length and then used this system to measure distances. The winning plane reached a whopping 16 metres – looks like there is a budding aerospace engineer at Port Melbourne Primary.
Have a look at the Gallery to see more of Port Melbourne Primary School’s maths adventures – you might get some ideas that will help you beat their records!
Clifton Springs Primary School joins the Challenge
Clifton Springs Primary School was the site of mathematical excitement early in November when around eighty Grade 5 and 6 students, along with many of their parents and family members, participated in the Victorian Maths Challenge (VMC).
After hearing a brief introduction about the VMC and seeing short videos related to specific challenges, the students and their families were encouraged to think about mathematics in the real world.
The students were very responsive and shared their ideas about how mathematics is all around them in almost everything they do. It was great to hear these conversations about maths beyond the classroom because when students and their families talk about maths, their understanding develops and this helps their learning back in class.
The students and their families then selected specific challenges to explore more closely. While some chose to build paper planes, some made paper towers, others created symmetrical patterns and others gave directions to guide blindfolded family and friends about the room. There was a great deal of productive activity. Teachers moved between the groups, discussing ideas with each family and talking about mathematics beyond the classroom. The creativity shown by participants was very impressive.
Big thanks to Kerryn Driscoll for setting up the VMC event. Thank you also to Principal Brent Richards and the Years 5 and 6 teachers for their support. Congratulations to the students and their parents who participated in the Challenges with great enthusiasm.
There was a great deal of productive activity as small teams set about creating towers of paper and tape. Each team came up with a different way to make their tower stand tall. Some of them could have reached the roof with more time.
Many paper planes were constructed and flown.
After investigating the distance travelled, students and their families made small changes in their designs to improve flight times and direction of travel. It may be some time before anyone finds the paper plane on top of the cupboard.
There appear to be several budding engineers at The Lake Primary School. The conversations around mathematical ideas will continue long after the activities ended for the day, as in at least one case the paper tower was taken home so the building could continue. The students, families and staff of The Lake Primary School showed great interest and energy in maths and problem solving. Go to the Gallery to see more.
There are lots of exciting real-world maths challenges for you to take on and share your mathematical discoveries. Complete as many challenges as you can with your family and friends and submit your work to share your ideas. If you need any help don’t forget to read our problem solving strategies here.
To kick off the Challenge, kids across Victoria, from Port Melbourne Primary School to Mildura West Primary School, have taken on the Challenge.
Using only paper and tape, kids, their teachers and their families built towers taller than many adults! They used their mathematical knowledge and made a list of all the maths they needed to consider when planning and building their tower. They talked about mathematical and engineering concepts such as balance, height, angles, force, gravity, tilt, stability, volume, mass, area and perimeter. They thought about what kinds of shapes they could use and each group used different 3D shapes. One group even drew their own nets to make cubes from scratch! They also made other shapes, rectangles and triangles prisms and cylinders. Check out the Eureka challenge here!
Have a look at their designs in the Gallery and see if you can use some of their mathematical ideas to build your own towers! Three of the tallest towers measured 264cm, 284cm and 286cm. Well done to these kids for starting off the Challenge with a bang!
Which challenge will you start with?
Make sure you submit your photos so we can share your successes and experiments too!