#MondayMaths and one sweet ride

Blog: Vicki Robinson, Communications Officer

#MondayMaths and one sweet ride

Posted: 3/10/16

It’s not often you’ll have to measure a car in sugar cubes… apart from in this week’s sugary sweet #MondayMaths problem.

We’re giving the scale factor of the model car in ratio form and are asking you to find the size of the real car and the height of the model driver (in sugar cube units). The kicker is that we aren’t explicitly telling you the dimensions of a sugar cube, so some savvy estimation skills* will be required!

At first, this might seem like a very simple ratio problem – so simple in fact, that it’s just a multiplication problem. All we have to do is to multiply the length of the model car by 42 to calculate the length of the real car? Easy-peasy.

But how long is a sugar cube?

The question doesn’t say. Unless you’re tackling this puzzle in the staffroom, it’s unlikely there will be sugar cubes to hand – so students will have to estimate the side-lengths of a standard sugar cube to estimate the length of the model car.

In the Mathematics Mastery curriculum, Year 7 will practice estimation in Autumn 1. Estimation is an extremely valuable skill for students and as part of our curriculum, we continue to employ estimation in measurement, particularly in geometry units.

Students will also have to estimate the height of a human driver and in calculating the height, they’ll find that the answer does not resolve to a whole number of sugar cubes. Deciding on how to estimate when rounding along the way adds to the challenge.

Repurposing the puzzle

  • To make the most out of this puzzle, you can rephrase the wording to suit a lesson more focused on measurement. Instead of describing the length of the car in units of sugar cubes, try using items that can be found in the classroom (e.g. dice, coins, rubbers), that students can measure to find the answer.
  • *Of course, you don’t have to employ estimation or measurement if you want to answer the entire problem in ‘sugar cube units’. The question doesn’t specify any required units so this is a good opportunity to talk about non-standard units as an alternative to estimation (e.g. a blue whale is as long as three double-decker buses).

Let us know what your class thought of this week’s puzzle. The answer will be posted on Thursday on our Twitter page.