Lower V Maths on ‘No Paper Day’

Posted: 11th May 2017

Linear Graphs – without paper

Mathematics is most definitely the most exciting subject on the planet.. Especially when Mrs Bennet, Head of Maths, decided to creatively challenge the Lower V Set 1 Maths in our No Paper Day.  Here she reports on the way Lower V set about meeting the challenge!

‘Tuesday 2nd May was designated No Paper Day and to my dismay I was told that included no exercise books (not just “no extra paper day”).  Tuesday’s lesson was to be on linear graphs – plotting them and solving simultaneous equations graphically.  Anyone who has been taught by me knows that non-linear axes or inaccurate point-plotting are not acceptable, and so sketching on mini whiteboards was not an option.  Nor was creating graphs the size of postage stamps to keep to minimal paper use.  Graphs should be big, bold and accurate! So, inspired by the unusual polyhedra I had recently seen on a visit to the Institute of Mathematics at the University of Oxford (below) I decided that our linear graphs could be crafted.

I set off for Hobbycraft Greenford knowing that I would be able to obtain mathematically accurate cross-stitch grids which could be used as a form of textile graph “paper”.  A few needles and some brightly coloured threads were the only other things required.

In order that the lesson didn’t just become a lesson on how to sew, (which was definitely not the point!) I created the axes on the grids ready for girls to stitch their straight lines.  It’s the sort of thing that wet Bank Holidays are meant for!

I also borrowed (from the Preps!) some pegboards and pegs so that the girls could practise their gradient and intercept placings before committing to textile.

The girls of Lower 5 Set 1 are often quite resistant to the idea of drawing diagrams and there is frequently a cry of “Do I have to draw this?”  So I was quite looking forward to the lesson when I would be able to tell them no, they would be sewing the graphs instead!  They probably think I am a little eccentric, but as so beautifully put by John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) “Eccentricity has always abounded when and where strength of character has abounded; and the amount of eccentricity in a society has generally been proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigour, and moral courage which it contained. That so few now dare to be eccentric, marks the chief danger of the time.”   So I consider this to be a good thing!

As expected, the class were somewhat surprised by what they were asked to do, but the girls tried their best, and grappled with how to stop their embroidery unravelling. Eventually, most of them managed to get pairs of intersecting lines.  Some of them wrote their solution onto the grid, but a few went the extra mile and sewed their answers on.

Testing out y = 2x and  y = 5-x on a pegboard

The first solution

A few technical problems – threading the needle!

Trying to find the point of intersection

All in all, this was a reasonably successful lesson, and I don’t think the girls will forget it.  I am not sure that any buttons they sew on in the future would stay attached to a garment for very long, but they did manage to keep the line y = mx + c in place.’

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