Midget gemsWe’ve been roped into doing a maths slot at the upcoming transition days – for the last couple of years we’ve been teamed up with technology and have done a whole series of sessions themed around flying (paper planes, parachutes etc) but this year we’re purely maths. So, what fun activity have we planned? … we’ll be building bridges using cocktail sticks and midget gems – obviously not out of the maths budget!

Basically the students work in groups of 3 or 4 and you get them to make a square, then a cube and demonstrate how flimsy this structure is – you then get them to make triangles and then a tetrahedron (triangular based pyramid for you non-maths people) and show them that this is quite a strong structure … then you just set them the challenge to build the tallest bridge (something must be able to pass through the pillars though – we use 10 multi-link cubes) and leave them to it. If you fancy a go – I’ve put the attached powerpoint together and it includes a slide with some teachers instructions too.

In the past we’ve used this as a house “maths” themed activity and always goes down well .. be aware though that if you are going to use with multiple groups and want to decide on an overall winner you may have to do this through photo evidence, especially if its hot as they don’t last very long.