Welcome to H3 Maths

Blog Support for Growing Mathematicians

Logo City inspires Integrated Learning in Year 9


From a resource at Teachers Pay Teachers called “Building My Block” a Year 9 class used this Porject-Based learning activity to integrate their Mathematics with English and Food Technology.

How to go about this activity?

1. Purchase the resource if you are extra keen. Or,

2. Simply make up a template to enable each student to construct their building (in this case a retail store).

3. Use tessellations for the roof design (google search “roofing tiles” etc. for ideas).

4. Print out the roof design and design for the front and sides of the shop. (an additional activity could be to price up the roofing tiles, etc.)

5. Paste onto card and glue or tape the building together. On a small ply offcut, glue the shops together, add a street and some cars and people and you have your very own town!

6. For the English curriculum add logos that promote each store’s function, add advertising, etc. This can be extended with (e.g.) the creation of a short promotion video.

7. In Food Technology, make cup cakes that use each store’s logos for a “Market Day” promotion to another class.

Good fun, great Mathematics/English/Food Technology, and a nice Integrated Study unit.

Alien Signals need Math Wizz to Solve


The Warkworth Radio Astronomical Observatory is located about 50 km north of Auckland, New Zealand. It is operated by the Institute for Radio Astronomy and Space Research, Auckland University of Technology. Here is a picture of it:
Task 1: Which shape – the parabola (C) or circle (D) best fits the shape of the telescope? Explain how you got your answer.

Task 2:  What name is given to the pointy bit at A? (You might have to research your answer in Task 1 to find out).

Task 3: What do you think the purpose is of the curved base of the telescope at B? (shucks – more research might be needed).

Task 4:  Scientists at the Institute for Radio Astronomy and Space Research have just picked up an unusual signal, obviously from intelligent life. How do they know? Because the signals have a numerical pattern, along with different colours. Jim Logan, a respected New Zealand mathematician, says that he is 101% certain that this signal is – and I quote –  “A sure sign of Alien life!” This is the pattern that was received at the Warkworth Observatory and carefully examined by Mr Logan:Here is a brief transcript of Mr Logan’s mathematical analysis of the number pattern:
“(Clears throat) I am sure that what we have here is a remarkable discovery – a new alien language (I used to think that Maths was an alien language). Someone is obviously wanting to communicate with us here in Tai Tokerau (north of NZ), or even in wider Aotearoa (NZ). Why did they choose us and why mathematicians? Well, it is obvious that they trust New Zealanders – an honest race of law-abiding citizens. And they love numbers – see for yourself in their message! It seems that they enjoy color too and, from my brief observation – they love having fun with numbers, just like me!”

These aliens have a strange way of showing numbers with different colored rings. I have had a colorful life too. However, I am puzzled – which is really unusual for me as I normally come up with all the puzzles for other mathematicians to solve! (scratches his head). So, I am sharing what I have found and need your help to crack the code.”

What is the meaning of the colored rings? Can you break the pattern code(s)?

Task 5: Jim Logan wants to impress his friends and send the aliens a message to show them that we understand the number pattern they have sent us. Draw the shape and colors we need for the number 77.

Task 6: (for deep space thinkers): How could you code your message to send out the number 77 as an electrical signal?
(more information – watch Dan Finkel’s video at Tedx)

Here is a doc of this exercise – so you can customize it for your class or teacher:
The Warkworth Radio Astronomical Observatory worksheet-rlutj5

Mathematics Saves Lives


Can Mathematics really make a difference and save people’s lives? Check out this video from ABC Australia…

by posted under Uncategorized | tagged under ,  |  No Comments »    

Mathematicians talk about their passions


The Impossible is taking place


by posted under Uncategorized | tagged under ,  |  Comments Off on The Impossible is taking place    

A Meddlesome Moment at the Fields Medal Awards!


The Fields Medal is the most prestigious award in mathematics, a recognition so esteemed that it is often compared to the Nobel Prize. Every four years, a selection committee chooses two to four mathematicians under the age of 40 to honour for their “existing work and for the promise of future achievement”. Then, at a meeting of the International Congress of Mathematics, they announce the winners and hand out 14-carat gold medals that cost more than $US4000 ($NZ5932) each.

When Caucher Birkar, a professor at Cambridge University, heard that he would be awarded one of this year’s medals at a ceremony in Rio de Janeiro, he was thrilled.Cambridge University released a statement saying that Birkar was honoured “for his work on categorising different kinds of polynomial equations. He proved that the infinite variety of such equations can be split into a finite number of classifications, a major breakthrough in the field of bi-rational geometry,” the statement said.

The 40-year-old, who specialises in algebraic geometry, was raised in a Kurdish village in Iran and, after studying at the University of Tehran, sought political asylum in Britain and completed his studies at the University of Nottingham.

In an interview with Quanta magazine, Birkar said that “to go from the point that I didn’t imagine meeting these people to the point where someday I hold a medal myself – I just couldn’t imagine that this would come true“.

Then the medal was stolen from him shortly after he received it. Birkar apparently put his medal in his briefcase, alongside his wallet and phone. He left the briefcase on a table in the convention centre, and, in a matter of minutes, the briefcase was gone, according to Brazilian outlets.

Someone was very meddlesome!


by posted under Uncategorized | tagged under , , , , , , ,  |  Comments Off on A Meddlesome Moment at the Fields Medal Awards!    

Finding Hidden Treasure unlocks key to Algebra


In the news recently was the discovery (off the coast of Colombia) of a Spanish galleon laden with treasure – a whopping $22 billion worth of gold. The 62-gun, three-masted galleon known as the ‘San Jose’ went down on June 8, 1708. Along with it, all 600 people on board, as well as treasures of gold, silver and emeralds were dragged to the ocean’s bed where they would remain for the next 300 years.

The whereabouts of the ship was a mystery until Massachusetts-based WHOI (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute) managed to capture images that located the San Jose in more than 600 metres of water.

The following video is an old one but also uses pirate ships to excite young minds to discover the hidden treasure!

by posted under Uncategorized | tagged under , , ,  |  Comments Off on Finding Hidden Treasure unlocks key to Algebra    

What fraction of the square is the pink triangle?


Using your knowledge of Areas, work out what fraction the pink triangle is of the square (answer soon in post support):

by posted under Uncategorized | tagged under , , , , , ,  |  Comments Off on What fraction of the square is the pink triangle?    

A Math cartoon for great discussion


This cartoon prompted some really great discussion in my junior math classes…

by posted under Uncategorized | tagged under , , , ,  |  Comments Off on A Math cartoon for great discussion    

You can’t build these gates with Lego!


Researchers at Oxford University have set a new speed record for the ‘logic gates’ that form the building blocks of quantum computing – a technology that has  the potential to dwarf the processing power of today’s classical computers.

The Oxford team is using a trapped-ion technique to develop its computer, in which logic gates place two charged atoms – containing information in the form of quantum bits, or qubits – in a state of quantum entanglement.

Described by Einstein as ‘spooky’, entanglement means that the properties of the two atoms stay linked, even when they are separated by great distances. The research builds on previous work in which the team, led by Professor David Lucas and Professor Andrew Steane (above) of Oxford’s Department of Physics, achieved a world record for the precision of the logic gate, reaching the demanding accuracy set by theoretical models of quantum computing.

The lead authors of the paper are Oxford doctoral student Vera Schäfer, and Dr Chris Ballance, a research fellow at Magdalen College, Oxford.

Vera Schäfer said: ‘Quantum computing will be ideally suited for tasks such as factorising large numbers or simulating complex reactions between molecules to help with drug development. Previous work in our group produced quantum logic gates with record-breaking precision. We then began work on increasing the speed of those gates without compromising their accuracy, which is tricky.

‘Trapped ions move like a pendulum during the gate operation, but when this process is sped up they become sensitive to a number of factors that cause errors.

‘By making use of a technique that precisely shapes the force on the ions such that the gate performance becomes robust to these factors, we were able to increase the speed by a factor of 20 to 60 compared with the previous best gates – 1.6 microseconds long, with 99.8% precision. [One microsecond is to one second as one second is to 11.574 days]

‘We have now produced the highest fidelity and the fastest gate, reaching a point where our gates are in principle good enough for quantum computing. The next step is to think about it in practical terms and work towards scaling up our system to create a viable quantum computer.’

by posted under Uncategorized | tagged under , , , , ,  |  Comments Off on You can’t build these gates with Lego!    
« Older Entries

Visitor Map

H3 at Edublogs

Find this blog in the education blogs directory


Post Support

The pink triangle is one third of the area of the square. Use half base x height formula for area of the triangle, etc.

The coffee cup logic puzzle – Answer is Cup 5 as all the others have blocked pipes. 🙂


6×6 for the maximum dog pen area of 36 sq meters.


Oxford Exam Answer: According to Rebecca Cotton-Barratt, of Christ Church, this maths question tests abstract thinking”

“I’d initially ask the candidate what shape they think will be formed, and then ask them how they can test this hypothesis,” Cotton-Barratt says.

“They might initially try sketching the ladder at different stages – but ultimately what we want is something that we can generalise and that is accurate (you can’t be sure that your drawing is that accurate, particularly when you’re making a sketch on a whiteboard and don’t have a ruler). So eventually they will fall back on maths, and try to model the situation using equations.

“If they get stuck we would ask them what shape the ladder makes with the wall and floor, and they’ll eventually spot that at each stage the ladder is forming a right-angled triangle. Some might then immediately leap to Pythagoras’ Theorem and use that to find the answer (which is that it forms a quarter circle centred on the point where the floor meets the wall).Of course, Pythagoras could easily find the hypotenuse – it is the green line along the water! (Hint: the hypotenuse is always opposite the right angle!)

Frustratingly there is no definitive answer to the riddle, leaving guessers with no choice but to continue scratching their heads.

Dr Kevin Bowman, course leader for Mathematics at the University of Central Lancashire said: ‘You can interpret it in many ways; one way is no more correct than another.

“There’s no ambiguity in the first equation; 3 apples is 30, so one apple is worth 10.
The Fruit Puzzle…
This isn’t the first mind-bending puzzle to sweep the internet in recent months. Earlier this year, National Geographic’s puzzle asking you to identify which direction a bus is travelling in left thousands of adults scratching their heads (see earlier post). One person suggests that, “because all the bananas aren’t the same, you could say that they all represent different amounts. You might even say that the two coconut pieces in the third equation are different sizes, and therefore add up to three quarters or even seven eighths when put together. In that sense, there are an infinite amount of possible answers.”

Dr Kevin Bowman, course leader for Mathematics at the University of Central Lancashire said: ‘You can interpret it in many ways; one way is no more correct than another.

“There’s no ambiguity in the first equation; 3 apples is 30, so one apple is worth 10.”

Another said, “1 apple equals 10, coconut equals 6 and banana bunch equals 4 so your answer is 20.”

All exterior angles of one coin add up to 360 degrees. Since a coin has 12 sides, each exterior angle = 30 degrees. Two angles are formed between the two coins. Therefore, the angle formed is 60 degrees.

Quite an easy pattern in the Oct 10-11 Post. Subtract the first two numbers to get the first number in the right column; add the first two numbers in the left column to get the last two of the right column!

Parking Lot Puzzle: Turn your computer screen upside down (or stand on your head), then it becomes easy 🙂

In each row, adding gives the last 2 digits and subtracting gives the first.

The blue cherry picker has an extension arm that can’t be seen very well. This has placed the workers closer to the camera and created a strong false sense of scale simply because your eye assumes that the workers should be on the same plane as the base of the cherry picker!

Yes, it was Major General Stanley in the “Pirates of Penzance!” Check out the link in the picture.

The extra rope needed is exactly 2 x pi or 6.28m!

Christmas Teaser: Today is the 1st of January. Bill’s 8th birthday was yesterday, so the day before (December 30) he was still 7 years old. This December he will turn 9 and, next year, will be 10!

What did the math mother feed her new baby? Formula Milk!

What is a bubble? It is a thin sphere of liquid enclosing air (in most cases) or another gas.

Number of toes = 5170

How many Mathematicians to change a light bulb? Why, n+1 of course (one to hold the light)!

Jan 24, 2014: Assuming a free fall rate of 9.8m/sec/sec it would take just 4.06sec to fall 81m.

= 1 (see first line in the post)

Yes, the TV show with hints of Mathematics and Physics (along with the usual tensions of flatmates?) – did you choose 79?

Leonhard Euler (1707-1783) was an incredibly productive mathematician who published almost 900 books! He took an interest in Latin Squares – grids where each row and column each contains a member of a set of numbers. This forms the basis for Sudoku!

Trig Ratios post: yes, the Sine and Cosine ratios are the same when their angles add up to 90 degrees! This relationship can be expressed as: Sine A = Cosine (90-A) or Cosine A = Sine (90-A)
Good work in identifying this trig pattern. Now, here is a follow up questions which we will address in the next post. Does this pattern suggest that there is a link between Sine and Cosine ratios? Come on, come on… be quick with your answer…Yes, well done – of course there must be!!

Yes, zero is an Integer (which keeps to negative and positive integers apart).

Sam had to position himself to make sure that he 8 the chocolate!

There are 7 days in a week (i.e. Modulo 7). 490 days will be the same day that you chose, so the 491st day will be tomorrow!

Yes, C is the missing section – giving the same difference between numbers in the rows and columns.

Other answers:
That’s a mean looking crocodile! Unless, of course, you knew that it measured just 40cm – yes, just over a foot long!! The camera’s wide angle lens has distorted the image and this makes tiny croc look menacing!

Yes, the 100m time for Bolt works out to be 37kms/hr or 22mls/hr. Of course that is just the average time, not the max speed he reached!

Category 3 climbs last approximately 5 kilometres (3.1 miles), have an average grade of 5 percent, and ascend 150 metres (500 feet).

Category 2 climbs are the same length or longer at an 8 percent grade and ascend 500 metres (1,600 feet).

Category 1 climbs last 20 kilometres (12.4 miles) with an average 6 percent grade and ascend 1,500 metres (4,900 feet).

Category H climbs are the hardest including an altitude difference of at least 1,000 metres (3,280 feet) from start to finish and have an average grade of at least 7 percent.
Finding missing numbers is great fun and many readers are regular users of Sudoku. In the recent post (July 13) we find that the sum of the numbers in each row and column is 6, 12, ? Therefore, we need to get 18 as the sum in the final row and column. So, 9 is the missing number in order to complete the puzzle.

Great to see some recent posts on Calculus and we hope that some of our junior students (Years 6+) have a close look at these and develop an interest in this (more advanced) Mathematics.

Trend lines are a practical way to analyse the patterns of data over time and are particularly helpful in population, commerce and environmental change, such as the arctic ice post. The best way to find the answer to the question posed in this post is to click on the original article, copy the graph and paste into (e.g.) Word, using the landscape format. Then, using a ruler, carefully draw the same lines that I have shown in the post. This will help arrive at a more accurate answer. When you have the answer, post a comment to the blog and we can check it out to see if you are right (or close). Good luck Junior Mathematician!

1 year = 31 556 926 seconds

1729 – A rather dull number?
The mathematician G. H. Hardy was visiting the Indian mathematician Ramanujan while he was ill in hospital. Hardy was making small talk and remarked that 1729, the number of the taxi that brought him to the hospital, was a rather dull number. “No Hardy!” repled Ramanujan, “It is a very interesting number. It is the smallest number which can be expressed as the sum of two cubes in two different ways!” You see, even “dull” numbers have special properties!

Blog Diary

Dear Blog Diary,

Our night sky has always fascinated H3, and there have been some recent releases of amazing images from our nearby galaxies. The size and sheer complexity of our solar system is staggering and, mathematically, quite difficult to describe because the numbers are simply so big!

The fireworks background gives readers some idea of how students feel when they suddenly get a mathematical concept and can apply it with success. This is what excites learners to do well in their math studies. This is also what inspires teachers to want to help students have these "aha" moments! As the famous Winston Churchill said, "Never, Never, Never, Never, Never give up on your maths!" (Well, he almost said that).

The "x" factor - it was intriguing to see the TED talk post that explained why we use x to indicate an unknown quantity in Algebra. Hope our readers also enjoyed this view on what we take for granted in our everyday Mathematics.

Lewis and Clark explored routes to the American west...all the way to Oregon City where, today, there is a great museum to herald this famous migration period (see link in the post). So, the header image show canoes heading in which direction? East? How do you know? Should mathematicians expect every picture or drawing to point north? NO, of course not! So, to answer the post question - the canoes could be heading in ANY direction!

I had a discussion with a fellow teacher the other day that was along the lines of how sad it was that students today have lost a sense of fine craftsmanship when it comes to products and services. For example, old cameras were beautifully crafted and lasted, with regular servicing, for up to one or two generations. Today, with our "instant society" we are surrounding with products that have little permanency. The revival of fine architecture in the Art Deco movement is a recent highlighted post. In the same way, important mathematical proofs are timeless and give us all a better sense of something solid and permanent in our fragile world. I do hope that students who engage in Mathematics at any level also share this passion for numbers, patterns and proofs that are fixed and reliable signposts in a sea of turbulent ideas and rapid change.

Thanks to the positive feedback from Warren in Perth who wrote, "Congrats and good luck in your crusade to bring the joy and beauty of maths back to schools." See the Welcome page for the full comment. It is always great to have helpful ideas and feedback from blog readers. Again, thanks so much for taking the time to read H3 Maths.

It was in the news recently that Apple was looking to spend some $97 billion - that's 97,000,000,000. At the rate of $1000 a day, it would take an incredible 265,780 years to spend. That's an insane amount of money and it would be a good exercise to work out how this amount could help fix some of the big issues in the world today, such as the debt crisis in Europe, or Global Warming.

Being able to "roughly" work out an answer in Mathematics is called "Approximation". A good example of using this is in the little test post from the New York Times - looking at the rise in median house prices across a period of time. The answer is lower down in this column... :-)

Above is an algebraic expression with two sets of brackets, -
(x+1)(y-2). The brackets mean "multiply" so each bracket is a factor of an expanded algebraic expression. There are four parts to the bracketed factors, hence the term "quadratic" which comes up often in Year 9 and Year 10 (Freshman and Sophomore) grades. As a growing mathematician you will need to become competent with factorising and expanding algebraic terms.

Great to see so many visitors from 17 different countries - a Prime Number as well! Of course, there are more countries in our Visitor list but they did not show up on the new clustr map.

The blog about maths being all about language is really not entirely true...was just waiting for someone to comment! You see, Mathematics is also very much about shapes, patterns and trends, which were left of the list. In fact, maths is really about everything!! (Answer to median house prices = B)

Welcome to our first visitor from South Africa!

Numbers - they are the DNA of Mathematics and some recent posts will focus on the way that different number groups (called Number Sets) behave - very much like the different groups of people that you mix with (or not) at a party!

Making visual connections is an often forgotten focus in Mathematics yet is integral to most maths testing. I hope you enjoy the challenge of finding the right location for the van on Lombard Street! Your need a sense of orientation and scale but it is really not that difficult.

Welcome to our visitor from San Francisco, just after the San Fran posting! This is a great city, with so much architectural and cultural diversity as well as such a wonderful location.

Patterns - now here's a great subject to get your maths juices boiling! Show me a keen math student and I will guarantee that he or she is into patterns! Of course, the true-blue mathematician is also into random patterns - which we call "chaos" - and that is another great math topic to look at at some other (random) time! Do Zebra stripes count as random patterns? ;-)

The importance of a good breakfast is our focus for the weekmix!

Great to see a recent blog visitor from Gresham, Oregon. Great scenery around the Columbia River Gorge including the second highest waterfall in the USA. Home to some good mathematicians too!

A good friend and wonderful Mathematics teacher (now retired but used to live in Gresham too) send through this kind comment from the USA recently; ".. spent some time on your math blog and was very impressed. I am hoping that students are taking advantage of it. I was particularly impressed with your process of getting students to think mathematically and not just look at math as a hallway that is filled with hurdles called classroom exercises. The most exciting part of math is when you open a side door and explore other rooms that may lead to a maze of interrelated opportunities in math explorations." Many thanks!

A visitor reads our blog from the I-95 (see post). Is this a space-time warp from our Dr Who files or a wonky GPS?

Dear Blog,
Over 100 visitors for January. 100 visitors reminds me of the famous story regarding the great mathematician, Carl Friedrich Gauss. He started primary (elementary) school at age 7 and his genius became apparent when his teacher asked the class to add up (the sum) of all (integer) numbers from 1 through 100. Gauss did this almost instantly by noticing 1+100 = 101; 2+99 = 101, 3 + 98 = 101 for a total of 50 pairs. Therefore the total was 50 x 101 = 5050. He may have reached this mentally by doing 50x100=5000 + 50 = 5050? Whatever method, what a quick mathematical mind at such a young age! Yes, Gauss had a keen interest in how numbers worked and this is a key to doing well in Mathematics.

Recent Visitor Locations

Skip to toolbar