Sunday, 24 November 2013

Lego Maths with Y6

Unusually this autumn has seen more than its fair share of wet playtimes.  During these sessions, many children have been attracted to the box of Lego bricks. Watching them build and play with the bricks, they instinctively know that if they are building with 8-stud bricks, and they run out, then two 4-stud bricks will do, or a 6-stud and a 2-stud, or four 2-studs.  Arrays are everywhere.  They are doing maths all the time without realising.

Wanting to take advantage of this enthusiasm, I decided to investigate the numerical properties of the bricks with my Year 6 class to see what they came up with.  I asked them to look for numbers and (for today) discouraged building.  I encouraged recording anything they found out.

They found out evidence of factors, number bonds, arrays, divisibility, sequencing, square numbers and experienced lots of data handling and discussing the numerical properties of their bricks.

One student found out that 100 was not divisible by 8, whilst another was intent on finding patterns of square numbers using 4-stud bricks (numbers of studs and numbers of bricks).

Another group were keenly trying to find the relationship between the number of studs on top of a brick with 2 rows of studs and the holes underneath.   

They could see that the number of holes was one less than one 'line' of studs.  Once they organised their results and checked their ideas, it was only a small step for them to realise how to explain using maths vocabulary and then with a bit of help created a formula.
This sparked ideas in others who wanted to try and find the 'rule' if the flatter base (rather than a brick) had rows of 4 studs instead of 2.  Although we ran out of time, the discussion went into the next lesson as one student was determined to explain to me how to get the answer (correctly!).

He came up with the mathematical rule and formula overnight.  
Can anyone else find it too?