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FE Magazine - Issue 17: Focus on...

This page has been archived. The content was correct at the time of original publication, but is no longer updated.
Created on 16 November 2010 by ncetm_administrator
Updated on 02 December 2010 by ncetm_administrator


FE Magazine - Issue 17Winter trees by Psy Guy used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported licence

Focus on – December festivities

Ideas for lessons in December

Make a New Year’s resolution to knit a ‘Counting Pane’ blanket for your college!

Woolly Primes
After seeing a blanket called ‘Counting Pane’ designed by Woolly Thoughts, at a knitting workshop, Yvonne Scott, a mathematics AST and a colleague (Liz Smith) from Ranelagh School in Bracknell were inspired to knit a version of their own for students to use as a lesson resource. They realised that this would be a large project and so Yvonne suggested that perhaps they could use the idea to help students and parents to realise that mathematics could be creative and produce something beautiful to look at, as well as representing the patterns involved. It was from this that the Ranelagh ‘Maths Community Project’ was born. Parents, students and staff were invited and the group has had about 12-14 members including some neighbours and friends of parents and staff. The project inspired several members of the mathematics department to learn to knit so that they could contribute, including Ben Davey, the NQT.

They first met in September 2009 to discuss what they would want the blanket to look like. They wanted it to be different from the ‘Counting Pane’ but at the same time, wanted to be able to represent the numbers 1 to 100 and the number of factors each number had. The design process took some time – for example, they could not have a colour representing each number as this would have caused problems with the number of colours of yarn that they would have to use. The simplest solution was to have the number of colours in each square to represent the number of factors that number had. By doing this they could then have prime numbers with only two colours and 1 with only one colour. The next problem they had to overcome was the number of people knitting squares, as this would give problems with tension and size. This was overcome using a technique of knitting on the diagonal and to the size of a template so that all the squares were the same size (well, they were a bit different in the end but not too much!!). The colours used in the blanket were inspired by their school uniform. They were fortunate in getting some sponsorship to cover the cost of the yarn.

Knitting actually began in February this year and the squares were completed in September. Since then, Yvonne, with the help of three other members of the group, has been joining the squares together. The blanket is now completed but needs to be mounted and put on a wall in the mathematics department so that it can be used as a teaching resource. They are hoping that this will help students to understand and become interested in factors and primes. As a resource they might ask questions like:

  • which numbers have the largest number of factors? Can you explain why?
  • what patterns can you see?
  • which numbers are prime numbers?
  • is there a pattern to help to continue predicting primes?
Image Credits
Page header - snow sceneman - photograph by Psy Guy some rights reserved
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