Number Sense

The Star Wars phenomena continues

Rogue One has only recently come out and grossed nearly 300 million dollars in its opening weekend. We were curious about how often and how profitable the Star Wars movies have been.  So we gathered data on each movie’s budget…

Home team advantage?

Even before your students check out the graphic below, ask them whether they think a game played at home gives their team an advantage.  If so, how much of an advantage?  Enjoy the discussion first.  Then show the graphic.

At least the days are getting longer

What’s your guess as to how fast the number of daylight hours will change each day from now until June 21st?  Will the changes be dramatic? Will the lengthening days be only a subtle change? Students make guesses; compute how…

Is 2017 prime?

Every birthday I consider whether I’m in the prime of my life … like when I was 29 years old.  Will this new year be a prime year?  I hope so. Don’t use Google or Siri or whatever.  Just see…

Earth’s Perihelion

On Wednesday, January 4, 2017, Earth will be as close as it gets to the Sun during its orbit. Shouldn’t that make this the warmest time of the year? In this activity students become familiar with the terms perihelion and aphelion as they calculate…

Times Square New Year’s Eve ball drop

On Saturday evening, December 31st, 2016 at 12:59 pm, much of the world will be watching the iconic Times Square Tower’s New Year’s Eve ball drop 141 feet to the roof of the One Times Square Building in Manhattan, NY.  This…

Pre-winter holiday activities!

Christmas tree lights – Students first guess how many feet of lights would be required to decorate this tree.  The class finds the mean and median of those guesses.  Then they brainstorm and refine their guesses. Lastly they figure out how…

It’s latke time

In my family it is traditional to eat latkes (Yiddish for potato pancakes) at this time of year.  They are fried in a lot of oil and salted generously.  My mom’s latkes were wonderful but they couldn’t have been good for…

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…

Do I have enough wrapping paper?

I have to wrap this box. In this problem based activity students first guess and then try to calculate whether they will have enough paper to wrap this present without taping pieces of wrapping paper together. …with this wrapping paper …

What’s wrong with this picture?

We’ve gotten used to believing what we read or see advertised.  But sometimes the clerk doesn’t get the sales discount right or something seems a little off.  Let students ponder this store menu and see if they can figure out…

Christmas tree lights – How many do I need?

Check out our Christmas Tree.  You need to buy lights for the tree.  Without calculating, guess how many feet of lights you will need.What information do you need to better estimate the number of feet of lights that you need?…

Giant macaroon nutcracker, revisited

Each year the Boston Ballet highlights the holiday season with the Nutcracker ballet.  In 2014, the Boston Ritz Carlton Hotel’s chef, Andrew Yeo and his pastry team, created a gorgeous and massive Nutcracker cake of macaroons and fondant to celebrate the…

Pick-a-brick wall at the Lego store

There are walls at the Lego stores that are filled with individual Lego parts.  You can fill a bucket and pick out exactly what you need. Use this PowerPoint activity to get your students conferring with each other, making guesses,…