# 308. Zombie stats

I’ve used word length analysis for years as a source of comparative statistics. The concept is easy – you take a children’s book and a grown up book and compare the word lengths of the first 20, 40, 80 words. After you collect the information in a table, you can use this data to compare averages and the range.

Image credit: www.comingsoon.net
But what texts to use? Well – you can’t beat a bit of Dr Seuss, but what grown up text could you use. I can highly recommend this extract from ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’:

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame Smith

Not only will you be investigating mathematical concepts, but you might just be inspiring a student to pick up a book and read.
Update: If you use the first chapter (say thirty words) of ‘Pride & Prejudice & Zombies’ you get some interesting data. The range is wide, but the highest frequency word length is just two. It’s a great conversation piece – why does this happen? The language is a very precise parody of 19th prose with all the correct connectives and no contractions eg ‘it is’ not ‘it’s’.

# 197. £40.95

Today we have a discussion starter question for you, inspired by a trip to the shops.

My shopping cost £40.95 today. What is the smallest number of coins required to make this amount?
If I paid with two £20s and a £10 note, what is the most efficient change?
Why would someone pay £41.05, as opposed to £41?

I purchased 17 items, do you have enough information to calculate the mean?
The most expensive item was £10, the cheapest was 45p. What does this allow you to calculate?
Two luxury items cost £9 in total. If I hadn’t bought these, what would the mean have been? Does this effect the range?

When I paid I was given this voucher:

What would the shopping have cost somewhere else?
What would the mean cost per item be after this discount?
What percentage discount is this?

You could also use this as a discussion starter about the number skills you use when you go shopping.

# 192. It’s a stick up!

Just a quick picture to share today. My colleague, D, went to the same TeachMeet as me and was equally impressed by the use of gaffer tape in the ‘Big Maths’ presentation.

Today his class were doing box plots and took the idea of averages even further. They made a vertical box-plot on a wall of the class heights. Brilliant!

I’m sure this idea has lots of potential.

# 188. Ducks, chalk and gravity

So how did TeachMeet result in me standing in a supermarket one evening doing a price comparison of duct tape?

Let us go back in time to #mathsmeetnorthwest. Dave Usher did a brilliant presentation on ‘Big Maths’, including the use of gaffer (duct) tape in lessons. I thought this was a genius idea – sticky, sturdy and temporary. I didn’t get a chance to buy any at the weekend, so I ended up in the supermarket on a weeknight.

Cheap own brand duct tape at £2.95 for 15m or branded ‘Duck’ tape at £3.95 for 25m?

I started school the next day with one idea on how to use it, which quickly developed into three..

Lesson 1: Averages

Equipment: Duct tape, liquid chalk marker

I did averages and range indoors. This meant I couldn’t chalk the walls or floor. However I could mark out key features with tape. I used the activity Averages and marked out the median, the highest and lowest values on the floor. It was at this point I figured out I could write on black duct tape with liquid chalk marker – brilliant! We labelled the wall with the highest and lowest heights of the class so we could see the actual range of heights.

Lesson 2: GCSE Revision

Equipment: Exam papers, scissors, glue, wall paper, duct tape

I have been using the Foundation GCSE Review with my Higher GCSE resit group. Reviewing ten Higher GCSE papers involves over 200 questions – that’s a big wall display! Both of the TeachMeets I have attended have used the idea of learning wallpaper. So that’s what we used – I’m grateful that some of my students are over 6ft tall or the wall display wouldn’t have gone up.

Now the duct tape was used to secure the top of the wall display and to ‘passer-by’ proof the bottom. It should last longer now that the lower end is reinforced.

Lesson 3: A-Level Mechanics

Equipment: Duct tape, liquid chalk, mobile phones, calculators, soft ball (I used a ball of wool)

It’s all very well drawing diagrams for A-Level Mechanics questions, but how about a life size diagram? We were looking at vertical motion under freefall/gravity. I gave the students pieces of duct tape chalk labelled with a, s, u, v, t. We went to the staircase and labelled the wall with the tape – so u (initial velocity) was taped to the top of the bannister and v (final velocity) went on the floor at the bottom of the stairs, etc.

The students then labelled what they knew: a=g, u=0, v=?, t=?, s=?

The students used mobile phones to time the drop from the bannister to the floor and calculated the distance and final velocity. The physical activity allowed us to think about how to draw these kinds of diagram.

And finally …
Just some pictures of an alternative whiteboard: