Does this picture make you think of Srinvasa Ramanujan? I’m always fascinated by the pace and range of little conversations with my seven-year-old son that wander in and out of maths. Let me tell you how we got there during a five minute chat while leaving the house and walking to school this morning.

# You're reading: Posts Tagged: education

### Mathematical Objects: Plate of biscuits with Alison Kiddle

A conversation about mathematics inspired by a plate of biscuits. Presented by Katie Steckles and Peter Rowlett, with special guest Alison Kiddle. What do you notice? What do you wonder?

Alison’s Noticing and wondering page.

We also mentioned A Problem Squared Episode 014 = Final Cheese Drama and Quick-Fire-O-Rama.

You can see Peter’s kitchen floor in this tweet.

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### Mathematical Objects: Hundred square with Susan Okereke

A conversation about mathematics and education inspired by a hundred square. Presented by Katie Steckles and Peter Rowlett, with special guest Susan Okereke.

In the episode, we mentioned the original Prime Climb colouring sheet and Peter’s Prime Climb colouring sheet on GitHub as drawing-primes.

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### Square wheels in an Italian maths exam

There have been various stories in the Italian press and discussion on a Physics teaching mailing list I’m accidentally on about a question in the maths exam for science high schools in Italy last week.

The paper appears to be online.

*(Ed. – Here’s a copy of the first part of this four-part question, reproduced for the purposes of criticism and comment)*

The question asks students to confirm that a given formula is the shape of the surface needed for a comfortable ride on a bike with square wheels. (Asking what the formula was with no hints would clearly have been harder.) It then asks what shape of polygon would work on another given surface.

What do people think? Would this be a surprising question at A-level in the UK or in the final year of high school in the US or elsewhere? Of course, I don’t know how similar this question might be to anything in the syllabus in licei scientifici.

The following links give a flavour of the reaction to the question:

- Italian recreational mathematican Maurizio Codogno adds some historical context to the problem then posts about how the question as posed provides lots of help.
- La Repubblica gives a round-up of the tough questions in all this year’s exams.
- Il Corriere della Sera offers some takes on the question from experts and Twitter.
- Mathematician Piergiorgio Odifreddi gives a brief description of how a square-wheeled bicycle works, with lots of discussion in the comments section.
- The Rudi Mathematici post about the question on their blog. They also have an e-zine. Yes, they have an h on their main site but not on their blog. (They write the recreational maths column in the Italian edition of Scientific American.)
- Finally, a thread on it.scienza.matematica picks apart the question a bit more pedantically.

6 hours, 1 question out of 2 in section 1, 5 out of 10 in section 2. My own initial reaction is that if I had to do this exam right now I’d do question 2 in section 1 but I’ve not actually attempted question 1 yet.

### Education bits: new PBS maths series, National Numeracy game, etc.

I’m not normally interested in education stuff, but we’ve had a flurry of emails from various people telling us about their projects, and I’ve got nothing else to do today, so I thought I’d round them up.

### Exam timing

When I have been involved with running exams (I wasn’t, really, this year), special care seems to be made to spread these out so that where possible students don’t get exams bunched together. Still, I’ve heard students complain “we only have one day off between the Monday and Wednesday exams, that isn’t enough time to revise for the second topic”. I have a lot of sympathy for this; assessing a module (or proportion thereof) by how you perform in a one-, two- or three-hour window is quite a problematic arrangement, and if you haven’t had sufficient time to get up to speed on the topic, even more so. But I have had in mind that, essentially, “when I were a lad, we had it much worse”. Clearing out some boxes to move house, I found exam timetables from five of the six semesters I spent as an undergraduate, so now I can confirm or refute my feeling on this, in the latest of my series of posts that are surely only of interest to me.

### PhD proposal in maths/engineering higher education

My university is advertising 30 fully funded PhD scholarships for autumn 2016. Basically, there are a list of projects and which ones get funded depends on applications. I am lead on a proposal for a topic in maths/engineering higher education. The description is below, and I would be grateful if you could bring it to the attention of anyone who might be interested.