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Mystery and Mathematics
January 15, 2012

As a teenager and an avid fan of CSI I  desperately wanted to be a Criminologist, this was until I stumbled across Euler’s Formula and everything changed (for the better of course)! But that love of mystery has stayed with me and inspired me to attempt to bring it into the classroom.

One set of CSI resources are now available as a collection on the TES, these contain five pieces of context based evidence which students have to analyse and interpret in order to eliminate suspects. I get the students to work in pairs or threes and they have to present their findings at the end of the lesson. My students love doing these and they are good for getting students to apply their maths in a new setting.

Whilst the above resources are good for the end of a topic or end of term another way to bring in some mystery is through activities like this free NumberLoving Coordinates_Mystery. This download provides the clues to finding the six coordinates using logic and some knowledge of straight line graphs.

You can adapt these mysteries to suit any topic, simply write a set of clues which reveal properties about your chosen subject. Again students can work in pairs and discuss their approaches, building up their ability to problem solve in this way stands them in good stead for their GCSE’s under the new spec.

Alternatively whieldon has shared some great ‘mini mysteries’ on the TES which ask students to work out several different questions in order to reveal details about a murder. These are brilliant at any stage of a lesson and there are some seasonal themed ones too!

I also recommend this resource shared on the TES by pixel. It is designed for primary but I have used it up to Year 11. There are a set of clues and six suspects, students have to organise and analyse the clues to eliminate the suspects. The clues are themed around speed, distance and time. Inspired by this resource check out this mystery which is based on scale, bearings, loci and constructions.

We would love to hear from anyone with any other ways they bring mystery into Mathematics. Get in touch @numberloving and visit our NumberLoving store for free and premium resources

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Sharon Derbyshire

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