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What is it?
One thing that continually amazes and delights me in equal measures, is that students of any age or ability love a good maths mystery. I have seen even the most reluctant of Year 11s (the kind who have never so much as cracked a smile in a maths lesson), suddenly finding a previously unseen burst of energy and enthusiasm when faced with a selection of clues and an interesting context. And the weird thing is, these students are not daft – they know very well they are doing maths – but they enjoy it, and get some excellent work done in the process. This mystery is one of the finest I have seen. It starts with a missing dog, and along the way students encounter key number skills, from fractions and rounding, to place value and units of measurement.
How can it be used?
Mysteries are often reserved for the end of term. This is completely understandable, but I would love to see activates like this become a regular part of a student’s mathematical diet. After all, there is no doubting the solid mathematical skills necessary to crack the case – this is no sit-off lesson – and this is combined with problem solving and non-routine context, all of which will be crucial skills for new ramped-up GCSE. So, if you have a lesson spare, give this a go with a Year 7 or 8 class. And, if you are feeling particularly brave, get them to design a mystery of their own.
Thanks for sharing!
Download Malteaser’s Mystery Case
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