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Wide range of aspects of subject knowledge essential to good maths teaching.

developing mathematical fluency and understanding, keeping things simple,

exploring alternative approaches, recognising common errors, clarifying key
mathematical ideas, making links and connections, ensuring precise and correct
use of maths language, improving problem solving and proving skills, responding
to pupils' qs, using ICT, inc calculators to provoke qs and encourage discussion,
assessing pupils' work and planning follow up, understanding progression,
particularly between KS2-KS3 and between KS4-post-16

Key Ideas in Mathematics Teaching: website/book looks deeply into key concepts:
delving deeper than the ability to answer typical exam questions: What qs
might a pupil ask and how would I answer them?
GCSE/A level specifications from major examination boards.
subject knowledge auditing tool. Example section useful. https://www.ncetm.org.uk/



Ratio, proportion and rates of change

Geometry and measures



Other A-level topics

Mental Calculation - Whole Numbers and Money

27+56=83 added tens first then 6+7=13 added to total

81-38=43 added from 40 to 80 then added remaining units

7x15=105 7x10=70 then 7x5=35 then added

68/4=17 60/4=15, 8/4=2, answers added

0.99+1.45=2.44 added 1 then subtracted 0.01

5-2.37=2.63 3 to 5 is 2, then added from .37 to 1

3 x 1.99 = 5.97 3 x 2 less 3p

of 5.60=4.20 of 4=1, of remaining 1.60=40 so of 5.60=1.40, so


19 x 21=399 19x10=190 x 2 =380 + 19=399

25 squared=625 25 x 20=500, 25x5=125, added=625

600/75= 8 75 x 2 =150 x 4=600

Multiplication Tables

can recall 7x8= 56, but for a pupil who cannot there is a problem to be solved. most
elementary strategy is to count up in eights: 8, 16, 24, 32, 40, 48, 56 or in sevens:

more sophisticated level a range of possibilities open up:

Counting back from 10 8 : 80, 72, 64, 56, or, from 10 7 : 70, 63, 56.

Starting from known fact 7 7 49 , so 8 7 is 7 more, or, 8 8 64 so 78

is 8 less.

Multiplying by 8 is 'double, double, double', so 2 7 14 , 2 14 28 and

2 28 56 .

addition of known results: 5 7 35 , 3 7 21 therefore 8 7 35 21 56 .

Doubling and halving: 87 is the same as 4 14 , same as 2 28 = 56.

Give several alternative approaches that pupils might use to work out:

Count up in 5s or 8s
5x10=50, count 2 5s back
Double, double, double, so 10, 20, 40
10x8=80, so is half of this

9 12
9x10=90, 9x2=18, added=108
10x12=120 less 12
Count up in 9s or 12s

Errors with Whole Numbers and Money

indicate what the pupil has done, how you would get them to see it was wrong and
how you would help them towards a correct method of doing the calculation.

2 8
3 5
5 1 3

They added 8 and 3 without carrying the 1. Show them that 30 + 30 =60 so any
answer in the 00s can be seen to be wrong. I would teach them that the tens unit
is carried over unless it is the final pair of numbers we are adding.
5 1.27 3.83

They worked out 0.27 to 1 to be 0.83. I would show them that from 0.3 to 1 is 0.7
plus the remaining 0.03 is 0.73 so the answer is 3.73

7 2
4 6
3 4
The student did 2-6 to get -4 then preceded to just write 4. They can be shown
that 46+34 is more than 72 so it is incorrect. They can be shown the correct
method of subtracting. Here they borrow a ten from the 7, making it 6 and the 2
-12 then they proceed to subtract to give 26

3 4
2 6
2 4 4
Unclear what they have done here. The student can be shown the correct method
of multiplying: after the units are multiplied, and the 2 is carried over, it is added to
6x3=18 to give 20, so the answer is 204

3 12 4
The student has reversed the sum. They can be shown that when dividing a
number by greater than itself we get a number less than 1. They can be shown this
sum as a fraction and then shown how to simplify it to give 1/4

The student has divided 8/4 to get 2, then to get 9. They can be shown that a
division sum can be checked by multiplying the answer by the initial number. Here 29
x 4 is not 836 so the answer is incorrect. The mistake is made when seeing if 4 goes
into 3 and then saying no and writing 0 after the 2. We then see that 4 goes in 36, 9
times, so the answer is 209. This can then be checked.

Understanding Fractions

1 2 3

Discuss the misconceptions that give rise to 2 5 7.

They have added straight through without considering that the denominators must
be equal before only the numerators are added. A common multiple of 2 and 5 can
be found or they can be multipled together to get one. Whatever is done to the
denominator is done to the numerator, then the numerators are added. We get 5/10
+ 4/10 to give 9/10. They can be shown this using a pizza cut into pieces.

Give several alternative methods (numerical, pictorial, algebraic) to show that:

2 3
5 7

We can make the denominators the same by finding a common

multiple. It can be shown that the inequality is equal to 14/35 and
15/35, hence the latter is larger

On a calculator it can be shown that the decimal 2/5 is less than 3/7

We can show by dividing a pizza by the above fractions that 3/7 is

greater than 2/5

Fractions and Division

Suggest various ways of helping pupils understand that:

3 4 34

They can be told that the fraction and divide symbols are equivalent. Unsure what

2 3 8

3 4 9
They can be taught the rules relating to dividing fractions. The second
fraction is flipped and then the numbers are multiplied through. Some
Sequences with Decimals

Explain briefly how sequences like these can be generated on a graphical calculator
and on a spreadsheet.

Sequence A Sequence B Sequence C Sequence D

0.3 0.08 0.025 1

0.6 0.16 0.05 0.5
0.9 0.24 0.075 0.25
1.2 0.32 0.1 0.125
1.5 0.4 0.125 0.0625
1.8 0.48 0.15 0.03125

The initial number is entered along with the difference between the 1 st and 2nd term.
In sequence A, we would right 0.3 + 0.3 =, then continuing to press equals will give
us the next term in the sequence

Indicate some of the key ideas and misconceptions that can be discussed with pupils
in relation to each sequence.

A: the initial sequence might be confused for doubling, they can be taught to look at
the first few terms to confirm this isnt the case.

B: the unit here is the hundredth, they can be told to take care with these and not
for example go from 0.08 to 0.016 since we have now entered the tenths

C: As with B, the units should be watched over carefully

D: Halving in general can be discussed. They can be told that this sequence will tend
towards 0 without reaching it, and that it will become smaller and smaller the further
we go.

// Fractions, Decimals and the Number Line

Label each number line from 0 to 1 at intervals of 0.1. Show the

fractions indicated, and their decimal equivalents, on the number line.
Indicate briefly some of the key ideas that can be discussed with pupils
arising from such examples.

0, 18 , 14 , L ,1 0, 16 , 13 ,L ,1
Errors with Decimal Fractions

Look at these examples of pupils' errors. In each case indicate what the pupil has
done, how you would get them to see that it was wrong and how you would help
them towards a correct method of doing the calculation.

0.35 0. 4
They have mistaken the sign used. They can be told to consider either that the big
number punches the little number or the little number eats the big number.

0.9 0.3 0.12

They have added the numbers without considering the unit change. They can be
shown on a number line the 0.9 + anything grater than 0.1 will yield an answer
greater than 1. They can be told the 0.9+0.1 is 1.0 no 0.10, so + 0.3 will =1.2

0.2 0.3 0.6

They have multiplied the numbers again while keeping the same unit.
They can be shown that any number multiplied by less than 1 will
generate a number less than what we started with. They can be told
that a tenth x a tenth will give a hundredth so 0.06, and this can be
shown with fractions or by a diagram or wording (one fifth of 0.3)

4 0.8 0.2

They have divided the 8 by 4 to give 2 and kept the same units. They
can be told that any number divided by less than 1 will give a number
more than itself. This can be shown with a simple example. 1 pizza
divided by half gives 2 pieces.


Give some alternative non-calculator methods that pupils could use to work out:

20% of 35
20% is the same as 1/5. 1/5th of 35 is 7
10% of 35 is 3.5, if we double we get 7

17 out of 20 as a percentage
17/20 given as a percentage will have 100 as the denominator, to get 100 we
multiply the whole by 5, so we must multiply the numerator likewise by 5. Our
answer will be 85/100 or 85%

17 out of 30 as a percentage
17 x 3 and 1/3rd

17 12 % of 18

10% is 1.80, so 5% is 90p so 2.5% is 45p, add to get 3.15

Percentages with a Calculator

Give appropriate ways of doing these calculations with a calculator:

13.5% of 37.60

0.135 x 37.60

58.32 plus17.5% VAT

58.32 x 1.175 for 117.5% total

Percentage increase when price rises from 19.95 to 22.35

Price after-price before/price before then x 100

Price without VAT when price with VAT is 12.78

12.78/117.5 then x 100


Pupils understand simple powers like 23 2 2 2 .

2 0 , 2 1

Suggest ways of making the definitions of and 2 2

make sense.


How do you explain that 2.4 10 23 7.8 10 22 ?

Standard form indicates a power of 10 so each power of 10 indicates a 10 fold
increase so it can be shown that there is a 1000 fold increase roughly in the 1 st
What is 00 ?


// Difference of Two Squares

1 3 6 10 15 21 28 36

The first 8 triangle numbers are shown above.

Explain why the n th triangle number is given by

2 n(n 1) .

Explain why the (n 1) th triangle number is given by n(n 1) .


Investigate numerically the difference between the squares of consecutive

triangle numbers. Explain your findings algebraically.

Understanding Integers

How would you help pupils make sense of these calculations?

3 2
Teach them the rules relating to positive and negative signs. Herewhen you minus a
minus it becomes a plus so the answer is 5

2 3

Again, a minus multiplied by a minus is a plus so the answer is 6

The Meaning of Letters in Algebra

Criticise this statement:

A week is 7 days, so w 7d , where w stands for week and d stands for day.

Comment on the extract from a text book shown below.

Find a green rod.

Make the same length with three white rods
You can write
One green rod equals 3 white rods
In algebra
g = 3w (notice that you do not write a 1 in front of the g)


Misconceptions in Algebra

Comment on the misconceptions revealed by these examples of pupils' responses:

Simplify 2k k 4 : 2k k 4 3k 4 7k

The error is that the student thinks all terms can be added together when only like
terms can be

Simplify 3x 5y 2y 2x : 3x 5y 2y 2x x 7y

The error is in interpreting the positive and negative signs, the 5y term is negative
as opposed to the before it being attached to the 3x. Given this the answer is
3x+2x and -5y+2y giving 5x-3y

Evaluate 5t when t 3: 5t 2 225

They have worked out 9 x 25 so have squared both the 5 and the 3. They should
be taught that after subbing in t=3 to give 9, the 5 is multiplied to this to give 45

Solve 5x 5 2x 11: x 2

They have done 5x-2x to give 3 x, then 11-5 to give 6, so 3x=6, x=2.
The error is in the signs.

Mathematical Language

Distinguish between the words in each pair, giving examples to illustrate their
Expression and Equation

the difference between an equation and an expression is the equal sign (=), which
the former doesnt have, so x+3 is an expression, x+3=5 is an equation

Equation and Identity

An identity is a relation; whatever the number or value may be, the answer stays
the same. Sin2()+ cos2() 1 is an identity.

Sequence and Series

A "sequence" (called a "progression" in British English) is an ordered list of

numbers. A "series" is what you get when you add up all the terms of a sequence;
"1, 2, 3, 4" is a sequence, with terms "1", "2", "3", and "4"; the corresponding
series is the sum "1 + 2 + 3 + 4", and the value of the series is 10.

Implication and Equivalence

Discuss whether each of these statements is true or false and, where false, indicate
how the statement can be modified to make it true.

x 2 x2 4
False, the latter doesnt follow the former.

x 4 x2

x 2 x 4

False for the same reason as the first question


If p is a prime number greater than 3, then p is of the form 6n 1 ,

where n is a natural number.
1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 Put a circle round all the prime numbers in the
array on the left. How would you prove the
13 14 15 16 17 18 statement in the box above to a year 9 class?
19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30
31 32 33 34 35 36
37 38 39 40 41 42
43 44 45 46 47 48
49 50 51 52 53 54
55 56 57 58 59 60
61 62 63 64 65 66
67 68 69 70 71 72

How could the discussion be extended to draw attention to the

converse statement?


Each conjecture is to be investigated and either proved or refuted by finding a

counter example. Comment on this pupil's responses.

The square of every even number is a multiple of 4.


The square of every odd number is odd.

So the square of every odd number is odd

A square number with a units digit of 1 is the square of a number with a units digit
of 1.
Incomplete, is not a proof. Would require something like this

N squared= (n squared, 2n),1

121 is the only palindromic square number with 3 digits.

28 squared=784, although 484 was correctly identified as a 3 digit

palindromic square number which is 22 squared

// Solving Quadratic Equations

Annotate your solution to each part to show how you would explain each step to
Solve the equation x 6x 7 0 by completing the square.

Solve the equation x bx c 0 by completing the square.
Use the previous result to derive the formula for solving ax bx c 0 .
Functions and Graphs

Suggest possible functions for each of these graphs, giving alternative forms where
possible. Assume units of one on both axes.
Algebraic Fractions

Discuss each result, highlighting the errors that pupils may make in attempting to
simplify the algebraic fraction without a calculator. Suggest ways to enhance their
understanding of the results.

An Optimisation Problem

Give a model solution to this question for A level students and annotate your
solution to indicate possible sources of difficulty and error.

Find the dimensions of a cylinder with a volume of 500 cm to give the
minimum surface area.
Functions and Graphs with Asymptotes

Suggest possible functions for each of these graphs, explaining your reasoning
carefully. Assume units of one on both axes.

Theline y x 1 isanasymptote.

Differentiation from First Principles

Superimpose a sketch graph of the gradient function of the function whose graph is
shown below. Explain briefly the steps in your reasoning.
Differentiate the function f (x) x from first principles. Note clearly the key points
of potential difficulty for students in understanding the argument.

challenging Algebra questions

1. How would you respond to an A-level student who says I think proof by induction
is a fiddle you are assuming what you want to prove Your discussion should
cover at least the following (a) can we prove that proof by induction is valid, or is it
just an assumption? (b) suppose that it is true for n = k, then we can deduce
that it is true for n = k+1 discuss the roles of k and n. Does n = k and n = k+1
imply that k = k+1?

u n 1 n1 .
u n 1n 1. However 1
and so

1 1 n

because for any x 1, x
. How would you explain this
apparent paradox to an A-level student?

3. 0
1 anything 0 1. But my sister says that
My dad told me that 0 because
0 0 0 because 0 anything 0. Who is right?
4. Do the following division: 2521 41. Wait for it the numbers are in base SIX.
Describe and justify each step in the process you use.

5. Find the first five digits in the decimal expansion of 2 in base SIX.

6. (a b ) 2 a 2 b 2 ? Can you find some

Why is it that so many people think that
circumstances in which this is actually correct for numbers.matrices, vectors,
anything else?

7. 1/4 = 0.25
3/7 = 0.428571428571428571
Explain why the decimal representation of a fraction either terminates or recurs.
What kind of explanation would you give to a group of year 9 pupils who have been
investigating fractions and decimals on their calculators?
What kind of explanation would you give to a fellow mathematics teacher who
asked you about this?

8. Why is 1 1 1 ? How would you justify this to a year 9 pupil?

Calculus questions

1. x 2 if x 1,
f (x)
x 2 1 if x 1.
Can this function be differentiated at x 1?
3x 2 if x 1,
g( x )
2 x 3 if x 1.
What about

The graph of a function

f (x ) is shown above.

1. Where is the function f increasing most rapidly?

2. Where is it decreasing least rapidly?
3. Sketch the derivative of f.
4. Where is the second derivative largest?
t x
K(x) f (t ) dt.
5. Sketch a graph of the function K (x ) given by t 0

3. Consider the function defined as follows

2 x if x is a rational number
f (x)
0 if x is an irrational number

Prove from the definition of the derivative that this function is differentiable at
x 0. What is the value of f (0) ? Use this to write down the equation of the
tangent at x 0. Use this to discuss possible geometrical definitions of a tangent
to a graph.

The function f (x ) has the limit L as x tends to a if the value of f (x ) gets closer and
closer to L as x gets closer to a.
Discuss this verbal definition of a limit using the following examples, taking a 0 :
sin x 1
; sin
(i) x (ii) x .
5. What is the derivative with respect to x of sin x when x is measured in degrees?

Ratio, Proportion and Rates of



What else can you work out if you know that 5 miles is about 8 kilometres?

1 mile=8/5 km or 1.6km and 1km=5/8 miles

In what different forms can you express the map scale 1:25000?

A 75cl bottle of wine costs 2.35 and a litre bottle of the same wine costs 3.15.
Give some alternative ways of determining the best buy.

Proportionality and Volume

Give brief model solutions to these question (not using ideas beyond GCSE) and
annotate solutions to show clearly how you would explain your reasoning to pupils.

A cube has edges of length 1 metre. Find the length of the edges of another
cube which has twice the volume.
A container in the form of an inverted cone is half full of water. Find the depth
of the water in terms of the height, h , of the cone.

A Problem with Speed

Give some alternative model solutions to this question (not using ideas beyond
GCSE) and annotate solutions to indicate sources of difficulty and error for pupils.

A car travelling at 60mph joins the M62. Another car is a quarter of a mile
ahead travelling at 50mph. How long does it take the first car to catch up with
the second and how far does it travel in doing so? How does the time vary for
different speeds and distances?

Velocity Time Graphs

The graph represents the motion of a

VELOCITY body moving with constant acceleration.
Explain how these three formulae may be
derived directly from the graph and
discuss the key ideas involved in each
u v u at

s ut 12 at 2
s 12 (u v)t
Show how to find the time taken to reach the ground when a stone is dropped from
the top of a 50 metre high building.

Derive the first two formulae by solving the differential equation dt .

Geometry and Measure

Angle Measurement

Comment briefly on the errors revealed by the responses to the item below.
Question Which is the largest angle?
The percentages are the proportion of pupils who gave each response.
List the errors that pupils commonly make in using a semi-circular protractor to
measure angles and suggest how they can be helped to avoid them.

Angles of Polygons

Give a proof that the angle sum of a triangle is 180 based on this diagram.

f g

b c


Use each of these diagrams to suggest a formula for the angle sum of an n -sided
polygon and show how the two formulae are linked.


Complete the table for the five regular polyhedra pictured here.

Name No. of vertices No. of edges No. of faces

What is Eulers Formula? Does it apply to all polyhedra?

Use some congruent equilateral triangles to make four regular tetrahedra and one
regular octahedron. Fit the five polyhedra together to make a larger tetrahedron.

What is the relationship between the volume of the larger tetrahedron and one of the
small tetrahedra?

What is the relationship between the volume of the octahedron and one of the small

Constructing Triangles

Construct all the possible triangles which have sides of length 5cm and 8cm and an
angle of 30 using ruler and compasses only.

A Tessellation of Quadrilaterals

Create a tessellation using this quadrilateral. What difficulties might pupils have with
this task? What suggestions would you make to help them? What properties of a
quadrilateral can be discussed with pupils in relation to this tessellation?
Properties of Quadrilaterals

Complete this table giving the key properties of different types of quadrilateral.

Name Sides Angles Diagonals


RHOMBUS All sides equal. Opposite angles Not equal in length.

Opposite sides Perpendicular.
Both diagonals




Mathematical Words

What is the plural of each of these mathematical words?

index trapezium
polyhedron axis
polygon locus
formula rhombus
radius Vertex
series Focus

Interesting Facts about Pi

Give a wide variety of interesting historical and mathematical facts about suitable
for adding interest to lessons at different levels.
Perimeters and Areas of Circles

Find the areas and perimeters of these shapes in terms of .

Angles in Circles

Give a proof that the angle in a semi-circle is a right angle based on this diagram.


Give a proof that the angle at the centre of a circle is twice the angle at the
circumference standing on the same arc based on this diagram. What other cases
would need to be considered?

x y

Explaining and Proving in Geometry

Explain how the angles of triangle ABC can be calculated, indicating how each step in
the argument could be made clear to pupils.



Two circles intersect at P and Q. PA and PB are diameters. Prove that the points A, Q
and B lie in a straight line.


The Medians of a Triangle




Find two alternative proofs (not using vectors) that the medians of a triangle meet in
a point which divides each median in the ratio 2 to 1.

The puzzling triangle

10 4

Calculate the total area of this shape in two different ways. Do you notice a problem?
If so, how can you explain it? How could you use this as a basis for a lesson on
Proving Pythagoras Theorem

Give an algebraic proof of Pythagoras theorem based on this diagram, where four
congruent right angled triangles are placed in a square.

a a

b b

a b a b


Explain why each of the shaded areas are equal. What else is needed to complete a
proof of Pythagoras theorem.

Give below another proof of Pythagoras' theorem.

Pythagoras Theorem

Give a model solution to this question (not using ideas beyond GCSE level) and
annotate your solution to indicate sources of potential difficulty and error for pupils.

Calculate the distance between the two points (-2, -3) and (3,


On each diagram write expressions for the lengths of the unknown sides. Use surd
form where appropriate, but dont evaluate your expression when numerical values
are given.
What form does Pythagoras' theorem take for the last two triangles above?

Distance and Gradient

Give a model solution to this question and annotate your solution to indicate
possible sources of difficulty and error for pupils.

The map references and heights of Summit House and Westfield Farm are
913538 and 132 metres and 931526 and 59 metres respectively. Calculate
the distance and the gradient of the road between the two places. Give the
gradient in the form 1 in n and as a percentage, and calculate the angle of
slope of the road.
Some Properties of Sine and Cosine

Explain each result in more than one way if possible.

Calculating an Angle

Give several alternative methods of calculating the angle in this square.

Addition Formulae

By annotating this diagram suitably show how it can be used to prove the formulae
for sin( ) and cos( ) .



Show below how the formula for tan( ) can be derived from the formulae for
sin( ) and cos( ) .
Two Problems

Give model solutions to these two problems for A level students and annotate your
solutions to indicate possible sources of difficulty and error.

Find the area of a segment of height 3cm taken from a 5cm radius

Find the volume of a cap of height 3cm taken from a 5cm radius


A body is projected with velocity v at an angle to the horizontal. Explain using the
formula s ut at
2 why the position of the body is given by the two parametric

x vt cos and y vt sin 12 gt


Show how to find the Cartesian equation of the path of the body.
Find an expression for the horizontal range and explain how to determine the angle
at which it is at its maximum.
Challenging Geometry questions

1. The diagram shows a square on whose base

stands an equilateral triangle. Calculate the
marked angle, explaining your reasoning.

2. Which of the following statements is true?

1. b ma c
2. b ma c
(a, b ) y mx c 3. b ma c
Give an explanation suitable for a year 9 pupil.

3. Given a line and a point not on the line there is a unique perpendicular from the
point to the line. Discuss this in various geometries.

4. When does a pair of linear equations not have a solution? Interpret this
geometrically in the plane, in three dimensions,


The internal bisector of the right angle of a

right-angled triangle bisects the square on
the hypotenuse of the triangle.

Discuss whether you think the diagram

constitutes an adequate proof of this
Challenging Trigonometry questions

1. On one diagram, sketch the graphs of

y sin x
b) y cos x
for 0 x 2. Label them clearly.
Hence sketch the following graphs, creating separate diagrams for each one and
giving a full and clear explanation of your reasoning in each case:
i) y tan x
y sin 2 x

y sin2 x
2 cos 2 x
y sin x cos x
vi) y tan( x 1)
vii) y tan( x 1)
viii) y 2 sin x
What important aspects of trigonometric functions do these questions illustrate?

2. True or false?
a) sin 2 x 2 sin x cos x
b) sin 3x 3 sin x cos x
2 2
c) cos x sin x 1
2 2
d) sec x tan x 1
2 2
e) 1 cot x cosec x
3 tan x tan 3 x
tan 3x
f) 1 3 tan 2 x
g) cos 2 x cos 4 x sin4 x
h) cos( x y ) cos x cos y sin x sin y

3. Use trigonometry to analyse geometrical relationships involved in the Egyptian

pyramids, both their external and internal features.

4. Prove that the shortest distance between two points on a sphere is along the great
circle joining the two points.

Starting with the addition formula cos( x y ) cos x cos y sin x sin y derive as
many other trigonometrical identities as you can. If you now use the identity

cos x 2 sin x
see how many more identities you can derive.
A Probability Problem

Give a model solution to this question (not using ideas beyond GCSE level) and
annotate your solution to indicate possible sources of difficulty and error for pupils.

A domino is selected at random from a full set of dominoes. What is the

probability that it displays at least one six? If two dominoes are selected
without replacement, what is the probability that they both display at least
one six?

Probability Questions

1. Suppose we have 100 red counters with numbers on them whose average is 5, and
100 blue counters with numbers on them whose average is 50. We pick a red one
and a blue one at random. There is a high probability that the number on the blue
one will be larger than the number on the red one. True or false?

2. A coin is tossed 7 times, and it lands heads each time. What do you
think will happen on the next toss? What odds would you give on a
head showing on the next toss?
Mean and Standard Deviation

Prove the equivalence of these two forms of the formula for standard deviation:

(x m)2 x2 2
n n

Find the mean and standard deviation of the set of numbers 1, 2, 3, 4,

5, leaving the latter answer in surd form.

Explain how you can write down directly, using the results above, the mean and
standard deviation for each of these sets of numbers:

2, 4, 6, 8, 10
4, 5, 6, 7, 8

11, 12, 13, 14, 15

1, 1, 2, 2, 3, 3, 4, 4, 5, 5

0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.4, 0.5

1, 3, 5, 7, 9

Using a Spreadsheet to Represent Data


Comment on the advantages and disadvantages of these two ways of representing
this data.

Statistics Questions

1.What statistical information would we need to obtain to predict how many

mathematics teachers will be needed in 10 years time. How would you convince the
government of the accuracy of your predictions in order to bid for the necessary finance
to train and pay the teachers needed?

2. A survey measures the heights of all the pupils in two classes, 4A and 4B. Five
children are then moved from class 4A to class 4B. As a result the average height for
both classes increases, and the standard deviation for both classes decreases. How is
this possible?

Other A level Maths Topics

Mechanics Questions

1. A driver leaves home at 8.00 a.m. and turns right onto a main road. He accelerates
smoothly until he reaches 30 mph. He drives at this speed for 5 minutes before
realising that he has left his briefcase behind, and at the next roundabout, two
minutes later, he does a U-turn. He drives home at 40 mph except for a two-
minute break half way home where he is held up by a red traffic light. Sketch a
graph of his velocity and displacement as functions of time.

2. a) Imagine that you have a metre rule resting horizontally, supported only by
resting it on a forefinger at each end. Write down what you would expect to
happen if you move your fingers slowly together, keeping the rule horizontal. Do it
and write down what actually happens. Explain why this happens.
b) Imagine that you have a metre rule resting horizontally, supported only by two
forefingers placed next to each other as close as possible to the centre of the rule.
Write down what you would expect to happen if you move your fingers slowly
apart, keeping the rule horizontal. Do it and write down what actually happens.
Explain why this happens.

3. Two toy cars leave the edge of a table at the same time. The red one is travelling
twice as fast, and is twice as heavy, as the blue one. Discuss what you think the
subsequent motion of the cars will be. Discuss how you think that a class of year 7
students would respond to this question. Analyse it using the equations of motion,
and then consider what kind of explanations for the motion you would be able to
offer to year 7 pupils.

4. A heavy object is being whirled round in a horizontal plane above your head, on a
piece of string. Many people think that if the string were to suddenly break the
object would fly out along the radius. How would you explain that the laws of
motion suggest that it should continue in the direction of the tangent to its original
circular path?

5. If you sit in a sailing boat and blow into the sail what will happen?

6. If you throw a ball off a stationary railway carriage what will happen?

7. If you balance a fixed wheel bicycle and push one of the pedals (a) forward and (b)
backwards which way will the bike move, (if at all)?

Discrete mathematics

1. Here are four cards with a number on one side and a letter on the other side.

A D 2 5

Which cards would you turn over to check whether this statement was true?

If there is an even number on one side there is a vowel on the other.

Construct some more problems like this and explain how your choices would relate
to a study of mathematical reasoning for GCSE pupils.

2. In my Discrete Mathematics class there are 32 boys. Each boy knows five of the
girls in the class and each girl knows eight of the boys. How many girls are there in
the class?

3. Prove that the set of all positive integers whose digits are all different is finite. How
many such integers are there?

4. An equilateral triangle of side length 1cm contains five points A,B,C,D,E. Show that
there must be at least two of these points whose distance apart is less than 0.5cm