A Maths Starter Of The Day

Book End Transum Encyclopedia


Transum Encyclopedia


Transum Encyclopedia


Transum Encyclopedia


Transum Encyclopedia


Book End

Five volumes of the Transum Encyclopaedia are on a shelf as shown here. Billy the bookworm begins by eating through the front cover of the first volume and eats his way through to, and including, the back cover of volume five. Calculate the length of his meal.

Book cross-section

Front cover 8mm thick
Pages 2.9cm thick altogether
Back cover 8mm thick

The answer is not 22.5cm !

A Mathematics Lesson Starter Of The Day

Topics: Starter | Decimals

  • 10a1, Willenhall School
  • The question says through TO the back cover. This implies that he does not eat the back cover! The answer should be 28.2cm.
  • Transum,
  • Thanks to all the good people in Year 10 at the Willenhall School for pointing that our. The words 'and including' have now been added to the question.
    Incidently the number of volumes in the Transum Encyclopedia and the thickness of the pages changes each time this page is refreshed so it'll be a different answer next time you visit.
  • Teacher Of 10a1, Willenhall School
  • My class will be really pleased to see this! This is a great starter for revising decimals and getting students to think functionally. Thanks!
  • Class 8b2, Birkdale High School
  • Oops - we all need to remember to read the question - even Miss!
    Thanks - we enjoyed this one!
  • Mrs Fairclough's Class, Year 9
  • Our class want to know how he got to the front cover of the first volume if he didn't eat through it??
  • Miss Williams, Yr 2
  • This is sooooo good everyone loved this thanks.
  • Emma Wheeler, Maidstone
  • It is a really good learning programme for me and my class mates we love all your activities.
  • Jenny, Etwall
  • on earth does the worm get to the front cover of volume one,then???Teleportation??
  • George, Gosport
  • The bookworm was obviously laid as an egg on the front cover of volume one before it was put back in the bookcase.
  • Julie, Perth
  • Do we have access to the solution to each problem?

    [Transum: The surprising answer and explanation appear below but only for teachers who have signed in. You can find out more about creating a teacher account here.]
  • Stefanie Lehmann,
  • Surely each book in the middle has got a front and back cover to eat through.

    [Transum: That's right Stefanie. But that's only part of the way to finding the correct answer to this problem]
  • Conyers Maths, Twitter
  • Bob, Ohio Grade 7
  • Really cool. All the class enjoyed it.
  • St Ursula's College, Yeppoon, Maths 8+ Class
  • We think that the answer is wrong because there are gaps between the books. Laney measured the gap and we agreed that it was 3mm making the length of the meal (for 7 books) 36.1cm Thank you.

    [Transum: Good try Maths 8+ but gaps don't count as part of a meal. There's something quite important that you are missing about front and back covers!]

How did you use this starter? Can you suggest how teachers could present or develop this resource? Do you have any comments? It is always useful to receive feedback and helps make this free resource even more useful for Maths teachers anywhere in the world.
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Note to teacher: Doing this activity once with a class helps students develop strategies. It is only when they do this activity a second time that they will have the opportunity to practise those strategies. That is when the learning is consolidated. Click the button above to regenerate another version of this starter from random numbers.

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Laptops In Lessons

Teacher, do your students have access to computers such as tablets, iPads or Laptops?  This page was really designed for projection on a whiteboard but if you really want the students to have access to it here is a concise URL for a version of this page without the comments:

However it would be better to assign one of the student interactive activities below.

Laptops In Lessons

Here is the URL which will take them to a related student activity.

Student Activity



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