Posts Tagged ‘Peppa Pig’

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.


November 27, 2013 3 comments

Currently my year 11 class are working on quadratic equations. I have always loved quadratic equations and as such i am quite excited to be teaching them. I have recently gone over them with my year 12 class so I had some good stuff on and I have built on that to create a good set of lessons around solving equations. I’ve shared them on TES here. Most of the stuff is mine, but a couple of the worksheets and the tarzia came from elsewhere, but i have included them for ease.

As part of my teaching with the group I have been trying to expand their matrhematical thinking. I want them to be able mathematicians who can think mathematically and solve a mathemnatical problem put before them, rather than pupils who are good at answering questions phrased a certain way. They all already have C’s and B’s, and to ensure they hit the A’s and A8’s they need they must be able to think mathematcially. For tomorrowa lesson i have come up with this starter (It is in one of the notebooks on TES):


I’m hoping that they will be able to make the jump and combine the ideas to come up with the right answer. Even if they don’t, I’m sure they will produce some good maths to help them on their way!

I also intend to show them this photo (also included in the lesson):


It provides a good talking point as the discriminant is replaced by a delta in the picture and next to it the delta is than defined as b^2 – 4ac.  Why the quadratifc formula shows up in Peppa Pig is another question entirely. It seems stranbge how many cartoons involve higher level maths problems, and I may highlight Simon Singh’s new book “The Simpsons and their Mathematical Secrets”, as something they can potentially add to their christmas list! (Its certainly on mine)!

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