Wrapping presents on the diagonal

Dr. Sara Santos is a popular mathematician and speaker on mathematics.  She has worked out a method for wrapping boxes (rectangular prisms) as efficiently as possible. (Watch the video above)  Her method was written up in this article in Mental Floss and she was interviewed about her wrapping paper method in this video clip from The One Show.

In this activity students determine if this method for minimizing wrapping paper is actually more efficient then the traditional method.   For a hands on learning experiment, have students actually wrap a small rectangular prism using any available paper in both the traditional and diagonal methods. Then let them compare the two quantities of wrapping paper and decide which method uses less paper and by what percent.

The Star Wars phenomena continues

A Porg, new, very cute character in Star Wars VIII - The Last Jedi

The Last Jedi (most recent Star Wars film) will open this weekend.  How much did it cost to make?  How much will it gross? Is the Star Wars phenomena a guarantee for success?  How would you compare these movies?

We've been gathering data on each of the Star Wars movies' budgets and earnings and posed some open-ended questions.  How do the Star Wars movies compare?

Consider this: Start with only the first page of the Activity sheet.  Have kids look at the data and ponder these questions: What does this data make you wonder? What would you like to find out? How do you suppose that I should calculate the profit that these companies made from the movies? What other factors should I try to account for in creating profit amounts that I could compare?

Why are the dates of Hanukkah different every year?

Tuesday evening, December 12th, is the first night of Hanukkah this year. I think it was much later in December last year. Why isn't it always on the same date? Students look at the Hebrew calendar and appreciate the incredible mathematics involved in creating a calendar that aligns both the moon's rotation about the Earth and the Earth's rotation about the Sun.

Spiraling triples

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Let students explore the patterns of perfect squares and Pythagorean Triples as they analyze our piece of art and decide why the resulting construction looks like spiraling squares. For a finale they color their own spiraling triple.

The activity: SpiralingTriples-activity.pdf

Consumer spending 2017

Updated!

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Graph from Wolfram Alpha

We spend a lot of money as consumers in the U.S. In this activity we look at historical data to see if there are any patterns in our spending.  How does our holiday spending show up in these graphs?  What accounts for spikes or drops in spending?  What patterns do you notice?  Which patterns will likely continue and which patterns won't?   Let the class see, think, wonder and discuss in this timely activity.