Monthly Archives: November 2018

Maths Advent Calendar

Glad tidings and welcome to the Transum Subscribers’ Newsletter for December 2018. I am writing it a few days early due to the fact that I’ll be enjoying a weekend break in the sun when I would have normally written this on the first of the month. Lucky me!

Let’s begin with a festive theme. Here is the puzzle of the month:

St Nicolas’ Yuletide Choir is rehearsing daily for the local school’s Christmas assembly. Each member of the choir has blonde hair or blue eyes; One quarter of the members with blonde hair do not have blue eyes and one third of the members with blue eyes have blonde hair.

What percentage of the choir members do not have blue eyes? The answer is at the end of this newsletter.

Maths Advent Calendar

As soon as November is over it is quite acceptable to have a festive theme to your Maths lessons. To support this you can, starting on the 1st December, open a door of the Maths Advent Calendar and for each of the days leading up to the 25th enjoy a seasonal activity (from the Christmaths collection), laugh at a cracker joke and solve a mathematical word puzzle. Transum subscribers are able to open doors before the corresponding dates by using the unlock button which can be found lower down the Advent Calendar page when you are signed in.

This last month I have been working enthusiastically improving and adding to the resources at I have just finished Parallel Vectors, yet another activity in the Vectors collection. It is a quick, drag and drop, challenge to match vector expressions with others that represent parallel vectors.

I then copied that activity format to produce Parallel Graphs requiring the rearrangement of equations into the y=mx+c format to find their gradients.

A new vector activity that will appeal to a wider range of pupils is called Vector Maze. Already many have earned Transum Trophies for completing it and the optional challenge is to find the shortest route from start to finish. Chick on the instructions tab to see the latest world record.

Convoluted is the name I plucked out of the air for another brand new activity providing practice recognising multiples. There are three levels with the first including multiples of 2 to 5 while the last level includes multiples up to 12. Pupils can time themselves completing a level and work to improve their personal bests.

Don’t forget there’s also an audio version of this newsletter in the form of a podcast. This month the podcast also includes an advert I heard on Heart Radio for Maths teachers which I quite liked.

Thousands of Transum Trophies are earned by pupils each week from locations across the globe. You may be surprised to hear that the top trophy earner (going by the name of Algebromaths) currently has 797 trophies in his or her trophy cabinet. Amazing!

The answer to this month’s puzzle is 10%. Sketch a Venn diagram with two overlapping circles representing blond and blue. Write x in the region representing the fraction of members with blond hair but not blue eyes. Now use the clues in the question to write the fractions of the members in the other two regions in terms of x. Now form an equation showing the three expressions you have written sum to one. Solve the equation to find x, the percentage of the choir members that do not have blue eyes.

Merry Christmas,


  1. Deck the halls with boughs of holly, Fa (La)9

Calculator Keys at the Corners of a Rectangle

Welcome to the Transum newsletter for November 2018. Here is this month’s puzzle.

Type a four digit number on to your calculator. The keys used to type in this number must form a rectangle. Each digit should be one of the corners of this rectangle and you can work your way around this rectangle either clockwise or anticlockwise starting at any corner of the rectangle.

Calculator Keys

After you have created many four-digit numbers using this method you should see that all of the numbers have something in common. They are all divisible by the same prime number. What is that number? The answer is at the end of this newsletter.

Now I am excited to tell you about the new additions to the Transum website that appeared during October.

Venn Paint Level 3: Shading areas of Venn diagrams is much better done using this web page rather than paper and crayons as you’ll find the undo button very useful. Levels one and two have been popular for a number of years now but yesterday I added a level three which contains some of the more unusual looking Venn diagrams.

Venn diagrams were introduced to the world by mathematician John Venn (1834 – 1923). What is less well known is that he also built rare machines. One of his machines was designed to bowl cricket balls. It was so fascinating that when Australian cricketers were visiting Cambridge, the machine was used to entertain them and it actually bowled out the top ranked player of the team four times consecutively!

Cylinders: A new multi-level online exercise requiring pupils to apply formulae for the volumes and surface areas of cylinders to answer a wide variety of questions starting with the routine and going on to more complex problem-solving experiences.

Fractions by Wholes: Although there are already many fraction activities on the site this new exercise has its niche. It is a three-level set of exercises on multiplying and dividing proper fractions and mixed numbers by whole numbers. As an added bonus jigsaw pieces are awarded for each correct answer and these pieces can be dragged to form a picture containing a mathematical joke.

Pascal’s Triangle: Get to know this famous number pattern with some revealing learning activities ranging from filling in a partially completed triangle to colouring in multiples to reveal beautiful patterns.

Pascal’s Christmas Tree: Following on from the previous activity and introducing a festive theme, this fun interface allows pupils to light up the Christmas tree by flashing numbered lights according their own number patterns.

Last week while on one of my regular park runs I enjoyed listening to a podcast by Grammar Girl. The presenter, Mignon Fogarty, explained that numbers do not exist in all cultures. There are numberless hunter-gatherers embedded deep in Amazonia, living along branches of the world’s largest river tree. Instead of using words for precise quantities, these people rely exclusively on terms analogous to “a few” or “some.” For the bulk of our species’ approximately 200,000-year lifespan, we had no means of precisely representing quantities. What’s more, the 7,000 or so languages that exist today vary dramatically in how they utilise numbers.

Mignon explores the ways in which humans invented numbers, and how numbers subsequently played a critical role in other milestones, from the advent of agriculture to the genesis of writing. If you would like to know more about this you can find it at  Grammar Girl episode 642. The podcast takes its information from a book called Numbers and the Making of Us.

The answer to the puzzle of the month is eleven. Subscribers can see the proof of this fact on the Advanced Starter page called Key Eleven.

That’s all for now


PS. I could tell you a joke about 288… But I won’t as it is two gross!