VAR for the classroom

We live in strange times, very strange times.

Due to the Corvid 19 pandemic, on Friday all schools shut.

The writing was on the wall from the start of the week and I began to “upskill” myself rather rapidly, to enable me to continue to teach remotely.

I am lucky – I teach in a well resourced and technically advanced school and, perhaps more importantly, I have a great Year 10 class. I devoted our lesson on Monday morning to seeing what worked, and how to use it. Having these digital natives around certainly helped to teach this old dog a plethora of new tricks.

I’ve now got a system up and running that works well – based around Microsoft Teams, I create a meeting and my class all join. We don’t use video (it can slow things down – at least that’s what I tell them. In reality, no matter at what angle I have the camera on my iPad I am greeted with an image of myself with several double chins.) However, we can all hear each other and the students can see my screen – either my interactive whiteboard, or an app on my iPad. It is a good system and I’m pleased with the results. Later in the week a ran a lower sixth class with some students physically in the room with me and a number who weren’t, and it was a seamless experience.

With a click of a button, I can record the lesson as it progresses, thereby making it available for review by students after the event, if they didn’t understand something or couldn’t make the lesson at the time.

But, more importantly, the recording gives me VAR for the classroom. No more “it wasn’t me, sir”, a quick check of the monitor (or with the TMO for our egg-chucking friends) and out comes the yellow card.

My classes have never been so well behaved!

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Rice (& Jeff Bezos’ Billions)

In several of my recent posts, I’ve looked at some unusual units for measuring volume, area and mass, so I was delighted to stumble across these two short videos that illustrate BIG numbers using rice, and thinking about money, and Jeff Bezos’ billions in particular.

They won’t take long to watch, but illustrate the point far better than words ever could, so I’ll stop typing now and let you click play.

 

@humphreytalksThis took me hours don’t let it flop ##billion ##money ##personalfinance ##rice ##xyzbca♬ original sound – humphreytalks

 

@humphreytalksRice. Part 2: Jeff Bezos net worth. ##rice ##billion ##billions ##amazon ##jeffbezos ##money ##personalfinance ##xyzcba♬ original sound – humphreytalks

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Wales, Boulders and car parking spaces

In a couple of recent blog posts I have written about unconventional units – such as boulders to measure mass or volume,  and football pitches and Wales to measure area.

I’m delighted to report another use of an unconventional measure, and this time from the esteemed body that is the  Office for National Statistics.

In a recent blog post they discuss the floor space of houses and flats. They tell us the median floorspace of a house in England and Wales is 99 square metres, and that of a flat is 43 square metres.

But what does 99 m2 look like to you? Do you have a real, tangible concept of what that measurement means?

I don’t.

But helpfully, the nation’s official statisticians have recognised this and compared the floor span of a house in England to about 9 car parking spaces, and that of a flat to 4 car parking spaces.

(From the data given, you can deduce that a car parking space can be approximated to 11 square metres.)

Everyone probably has a good sense of the size of an average car parking space, so a useful additional unconventional unit to add to our collection.

 

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A large boulder …

In this post I wrote about using unconventional units of measurement, such as using football pitches or Wales to measure area, or Double Decker Buses for height & volume, the blue whale for mass etc.

But, crucially, I omitted a vital measure of volume: the small boulder.

In, perhaps, the best tweet of the day, The San Miguel Sheriff wrote:

Large boulder the size of a small boulder is completely blocking east-bound lane Highway 145 mm78 at Silverpick Rd. Please use caution and watch for emergency vehicles in the area.

As one wag pointed out, a large boulder the size of a small boulder must surely be an average sized boulder.

Fortunately, the Sheriff in a later tweet, confirmed that the boulder had been moved and, more importantly, gave its dimensions as:

The boulder that fell onto Highway 145 at Silverpick Rd outside Telluride was approximately 4ftx4ftx4ft (64 cubic ft) and weighed about 10,000lbs.

So now we are able to quantify the “small boulder” unit.

By my calculations, 60 small boulders have the same volume as Double Decker Bus, and 20 small boulders weigh the same as one blue whale.

Important stuff.

 

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Best Use of Maths award, 2019

Throughout 2019, maths has been used in a multitude of manners, and the world in which we live would be very different without the application of mathematics.

But one use of the subject stands out above all others, and is worthy of a “Best Use of Maths 2019” award.

The comedian – and now mathematical hero – Joe Lycett correctly complained to Pot Noodle about their misuse of percentages and ratios when comparing their regular and king-sized pot noddles and, specifically, how their sachet sizes did not scale up alongside the noodle content. Important stuff.

Here is Joe’s letter to Pot Noodle:

To be fair, Pot Noodle took the request with good grace:

So, well done Joe, and Thank You.

The next time a student asks “what’s the point of maths” I shall show them this, how you used maths to take on the food giants and won, fighting for the rights of Pot Noddle eaters the world over.

An award well deserved.

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