Posts Tagged ‘Disney’

Vectors, Despicable Me and Other Stories

January 25, 2014 6 comments

This week I have been teaching my year 13s about vectors. It had been a while since they had met vectors, so I asked what they remembered about them and one said: “direction and magnitude, they have direction and magnitude. That’s why vector on despicable me chose his name, because he’s committing crime with direction and magnitude!” See this clip.

I had seen the film before, but a few years ago and I had completely forgotten about this character! It is certainly a clip I will share with students in future! (Along with this classic.)

Videos like these are funny and memorable, and can help to embed the knowledge of vectors into the minds of pupils, thus enabling them to recall the knowledge better in an exam. There is plenty of debate around gimmicks and teaching methods. Whether one should be trying to teach or to entertain, but I don’t see why you can’t do both, as long as the entertainment adds to, rather than detracts from, the learning. And videos like this work better than any mnemonic for embedding knowledge and ideas into the teenage memory banks.

The world of entertainment certainly seems to have strong links to maths, the Simpsons and Futurama have for years included maths, which is cool in itself and I think should give plenty of things to use in lessons. Dr Who has plenty of maths, including happy primes and Fermat’s last theorem. The Big Bang Theory is, quite unsurprisingly, the show which keeps on giving, from Thursdays episode which included the mechanics of cow tipping, through topological problems like which cinema to go to to modelling examples, like when Sheldon extrapolated data on Penny’s serial history while on his first date with Amy.

Perhaps more surpringly is the fact that Disney snuck pi into Mary Poppins and there is clearly a maths enthusiast at Universal Pictures who worked on Despicable Me to include the vector character. Even preschool shows are at it! Peppa pig has reference to the quadratic equation and Ben and Holly’s wise old elf uses the golden ratio! Do let me know if you spot any more.


The mechanics of cow tipping.


The quadratic formula at Daddy Pig’s office, the discriminant is in yellow.

Pi, and Mary Poppins

January 3, 2014 4 comments

Yesterday we were watching Mary Poppins and we noticed something we hadn’t noticed before. The most surprising thing is probably that is was my partner, not I, that noticed it. What she noticed can be seen here:


“Why have they got pi on that kite?” she asked.

I’ve been thinking about that question. My first thought was that it may be completely random, although I dismissed that idea fairly quickly. This is a big budget Disney movie, it’s highly unlikely that anything in it is there randomly or by accident. So why is it there? What does it signify?

My next thought was that Mr Banks is acting a little irrationally at that point in the film, and Pi is the most famous of all irrational numbers, perhaps the film makers put it there for this reason? (I did Google this, and not much came up but it does seem this idea had been had before)

Perhaps the film makers just love maths, and wanted to include the picture symbol as a nod to that? Perhaps there was some significance to Pi’s infinite nature?

Do you know the answer? Have you spotted Pi, or any other maths links in other Disney films? In any films for that matter? I’d love to know if you have!

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