Can Your Students Solve These Star Wars Math Problems?

Are you ready to channel your kids' enthusiasm for Star Wars into sharpening their math skills?

Math puzzles give your kids an opportunity to think critically and deeply about mathematics, develop problem-solving strategies, and work through challenging problems.

And when math problems incorporate your kids' personal interests (because who doesn't love Star Wars?), their engagement will skyrocket!

So, go ahead and try these challenges and puzzles with your kids this week. These kinds of activities are perfect for warm-up and/or cool-down activities and are great for sparking mathematical discussions in your home or classroom.

How to Download: You can download any of the puzzles by right-clicking on the image and saving it to your computer or by dragging-and-dropping it to your desktop.

1.) Find the value of the '?'

Use your math skills to find the value of each icon.

Kylo Ren = 14

Luke Skywalker = 14

BB-8 = 3

Rebel Pilot = 9

? = 26

2.) Multiplication tables work like a Bingo board, where the value of each box represents the product of its corresponding row and column.

Stormtrooper = 6

Millenium Falcon = 12

Death Star = 4

Darth Vader = 24

Tie Fighter = 16

R2D2 = 18

Looking for more free math challenges like these? click here

Are you looking for more daily math challenges and puzzles to share with your kids?

My best-selling workbook 101 Math Challenges for Engaging Your Students is now available as a PDF download. You can get yours today by clicking here.

3.) Which One Doesn't Belong? (simple)

Remember that WODB? activities are meant to spark mathematical thinking and discussion and do not have a single correct answer.

4.) Which One Doesn't Belong? (advanced)

Tip: Have your kids justify their thinking in writing!

Are you looking for more daily WODB? math graphics?

You can now share 101 daily WODB warm-up activities for grades 1-9 with your kids with our PDF workbook!

How will you use these math puzzles with your kids? Share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section below!

(Never miss a Mashup Math blog--click here to get our weekly newsletter!)

By Anthony Persico

Anthony is the content crafter and head educator for YouTube's MashUp Math and an advisor to Amazon Education's 'With Math I Can' Campaign. You can often find me happily developing animated math lessons to share on my YouTube channel . Or spending way too much time at the gym or playing on my phone.

Are You Using This Genius Strategy for Math Writing?

Writing about math helps kids to organize their thinking, use key vocabulary, and communicate mathematically—which leads to deep and meaningful understanding.

Over the past few years, math teachers are incorporating more writing activities into their lesson plans—a trend that is being driven by the use of highly engaging think-notice-wonder writing prompts that spark deep mathematical discussion and are highly effective as warm-up or cool-down activities.

This strategy has recently been endorsed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics:

By asking What do you notice? What do you wonder? we give students opportunities to see problems in big-picture ways, and discover multiple strategies for tackling a problem. Self-confidence, reflective skills, and engagement soar, and students discover that the goal is not to be "over and done," but to realize the many different ways to approach problems.

How does it work?

Math teachers often struggle to find topics for their kids to write about. Sometimes the best way to encourage creativity and exploration is simply posting an image and asking students to describe what they think, notice, and wonder about what they are seeing.

The best way to use think-notice-wonder activities is to choose an image every day and project it as large as you can at the front of your classroom.

Then, have students write 3 sentences about the image starting with:

•     I think…

•     I notice…

•     I wonder…

✔  You may want to have students share their entries in a daily math journal. This practice will get them used to writing about mathematics regularly.

✔  Try not to give too many prompts. You’ll be surprised by how creative and detailed student responses will become over time!

✔  Try to choose images that work with the day’s topic/theme

What would think-notice-wonder look like in YOUR classroom?

Imagine an unusual day where your kids enter class expecting a normal warm-up practice problem but are caught by surprise.

They see the above image of a drone delivering a pizza displayed on the board along with a writing prompt that calls for them to complete the statements I think..., I notice..., and I wonder...

What kind of creative thoughts and ideas would they have?

How much weight can the drone carry? How many pizzas can it hold at once?

How would thinking about this image activate their prior knowledge and spark their curiosity?

What are the dimensions of the largest and smallest pizza box it can hold? Does it have to be square?

What kind of anticipation would it build for an upcoming lesson or activity?

Does the drone use GPS coordinates to get from point to point?

Why Think-Notice-Wonder?

Engaging in think-notice-wonder writing activities at the start of a math class is a great way to ignite student thinking, spark creativity, and build anticipation.

Even if students are not directly engaged in mathematical problem-solving, their curiosity and interest will carry on throughout the day’s lesson.

Be mindful that your kids will need some time to get used to these kinds of activities, but after a week or so, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the spike in engagement, boost in student enthusiasm and high quality of responses!

Are you ready to try it with your kids?

Here are a few more sample graphics for you to try in your classroom:

Want more? Download 101 Daily Think-Notice-Wonder Writing Prompts for Engaging Your Kids

You can now share 101 Daily Think-Notice-Wonder Writing Prompts with your kids with our PDF workbook!

Do you have experience using think-notice-wonder activities with your math students? Share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section below!

(Never miss a Mashup Math blog--click here to get our weekly newsletter!)

By Anthony Persico

Anthony is the content crafter and head educator for YouTube's MashUp Math and an advisor to Amazon Education's 'With Math I Can' Campaign. You can often find me happily developing animated math lessons to share on my YouTube channel . Or spending way too much time at the gym or playing on my phone.

7 Math Movies to Show Before Winter Vacation

Are you looking for school appropriate movies to show your math students before winter break?

Whether you want to give your kids a break from testing, supplement your instruction, or share some well-earned holiday fun time, showing a math-themed movie in class can be an educational and enjoyable experience.

While it can be challenging to find movies that are directly related to mathematics, there are plenty of creative ways to appropriately show full movies and movie clips in your classroom.

Image Source: http://www.imdb.com

Many movies have strong mathematical elements that an be used to spark discussions and help your kids make connections with what they are learning in class. For example, in Pixar’s WALL-E, the main character spends his days compressing garbage into cubes and stacking them into massive piles. The applications to lessons on volume and surface area are practically endless!

So, if you are struggling to find a math movie that is right for your kids, check out the following list, get the popcorn ready, and enjoy!

*Disclaimer: You should always get permission from your administration and use discretion before showing any movie or movie scene to your kids.

1.) A Beautiful Mind (PG-13)

IMDb Synopsis: After John Nash, a brilliant but asocial mathematician, accepts secret work in cryptography, his life takes a turn for the nightmarish.

Why? A Beautiful Mind is more than just an interesting tale about a paranoid mathematician, it shares several examples of how beautiful mathematics truly is and how it applies to our everyday world.

2.) WALL-E (G)

IMDb Synopsis: In the distant future, a small waste-collecting robot inadvertently embarks on a space journey that will ultimately decide the fate of mankind.

Why? WALL-E is a fun movie with very little dialogue that touches on ideas including robotics, AI, environmental protection, and space travel. With a little creativity, you can connect a variety of math topics and ideas to the events of the film.

3.) Moneyball (PG-13)

IMDb Synopsis: Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane's successful attempt to assemble a baseball team on a lean budget by employing computer-generated analysis to acquire new players.

Why? You won't find a movie that demonstrates the tremendous role that mathematics plays in professional sports better than Moneyball. Showing the full movie will give your kids a better idea of how mathematics applies to the real world as well as possible career paths, such as becoming a Major League Baseball scout, that require a deep understanding of applied mathematics.

4.) The Martian (PG-13)

IMDb Synopsis: An astronaut becomes stranded on Mars after his team assume him dead, and must rely on his ingenuity to find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive.

Why? The Martian is probably the best STEM movie ever. There are countless scenes where Matt Damon has to use mathematics and mathematical reasoning to overcome challenges and advance his quest for survival. If you are looking to show your kids that math can take you places, then The Martian is your best choice!

5.) October Sky (PG)

IMDb Synopsis: The true story of Homer Hickam, a coal miner's son who was inspired by the first Sputnik launch to take up rocketry against his father's wishes.

Why? October Sky is another awesome STEM-themed movie with plenty of examples of how mathematics can be applied to the real-world. This teacher-favorite is popular with students because the main characters are rebellious (in a good way) grade-school students.

6.) Hidden Figures (PG)

IMDb Synopsis: The story of a team of female African-American mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the U.S. space program.

Why? Hidden Figures is an incredible and inspiring movie that demonstrates the power of mathematics and the fact that the subject is open to individuals of all genders and backgrounds.

7.) Donald in Mathmagic Land

IMDb Synopsis: Donald Duck goes on an adventure in which it is explained how mathematics can be useful in real life. Through this journey it is shown how numbers are more than graphs and charts, they are geometry, music, and magical living things.

Why? Did you really think that this 1959 classic would not be on this list? This timeless gem was made to show kids that mathematics is more than just a set of procedures and rules. Despite its age and short duration (it's only 27 minutes long), it still stands up and is a beloved by students and teachers alike. And did I mention that you can watch the full movie for free on YouTube

Did I miss your favorite math movie or tv show? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

(Never miss a Mashup Math blog--click here to get our weekly newsletter!)

By Anthony Persico

Anthony is the content crafter and head educator for YouTube's MashUp Math and an advisor to Amazon Education's 'With Math I Can' Campaign. You can often find me happily developing animated math lessons to share on my YouTube channel . Or spending way too much time at the gym or playing on my phone.

How Game-Based Learning Can Boost Kids’ Math Skills

It's a sad reality that math is commonly among students’ least favorite subjects—many view it as boring, irrelevant, and often bewildering.

And being satisfied with nothing more than a passing math grade is often the best that many kids feel they can achieve.

Educational institutions are well aware of this common dislike for learning math and are creating programs aimed at making math more enjoyable, interactive, and game-like.

It’s no secret that video games are widely popular with kids and channeling this enthusiasm towards education has tremendous potential.

In fact, there are strong correlations between gaming and learning math—including logical thinking and decision making, spatial awareness, and creative problem-solving.

“One of the biggest benefits of gamification is that kids also get to “play,” which developmentally is important,” says Dr. Alison Gopnik, an educational psychologist.

“Play is not just some touchy-feely activity. And it’s not just that you want to leave children alone and not rush them. There’s hard evidence that children learn more things through play than they would in some academic setting,” said Gopnik in a recent interview.

She suggests that incorporating gaming elements, such as going on adventures, changing characters, and earning instant rewards, can prove to be beneficial in changing a student’s attitude towards learning.

The use of such elements – a method known as gamification – makes math exciting and less repetitive. A study conducted by Deakin University found that playing math games “helped to alleviate the tediousness of repetitive problem-solving.” Video games also provide a sense of possible success for the player, an attribute that is not necessarily associated with math.

Game-based learning can also help bridge the gender gap in math and help young kids overcome stereotypes that boys are more inclined towards science and math, while girls prefer literature and art. By gamifying math, all students become more confident in solving problems.

Incorporating digital games for middle school students helps students in the long run. A recent McGraw-Hill study on the digital habits of over 1,700 college students revealed that 75% of the participants found technology to be helpful in preparing for class, and nearly 80% of this group associated it to their improving grades. The role of technology will also stem further into various careers, seeing as it’s common for companies to incorporate the latest technologies in their organizational structure and systems.

The New York Times shared what they call a better way of teaching math as well. They identified a curriculum called Jump Math, which suggests teaching math to students without the pretense of limited mental capabilities. John Mighton, the founder of the non-profit organization that created the curriculum, emphasized that any student can learn even the highest levels of university math courses, regardless of age.

Mighton stressed that schools have to stop systems that define the intelligence level of students based solely on their performance in specific subjects, including math—a practice that makes children more afraid of the subject, especially if they can’t adapt quickly to the pacing in their classes. The Jump Math curriculum is now being taught to over 65,000 children in classrooms and 20,000 at home.

Similar to approaching other subjects, teaching math has different methods and applications. And while each one is unique, they all hold the same objectives: getting students more interested in mathematics and its applications to real-life. As educational methods develop and edtech applications continue to evolve, the process of student development will experience more and more innovation.

By Jennifer Birch

Teaching Kids How to Plot Points with Fractions

Are you looking to give your kids some practice with plotting and graphing coordinate points that have fractions?

The following video lesson shares a fun practice problem that visually explains how to plot coordinate points with whole numbers and fractions:

Learning Standard:

6th Grade Number System

Solve real-world and mathematical problems by graphing points in all four quadrants of the coordinate plane. Include use of coordinates and absolute value to find distances between points with the same first coordinate or the same second coordinate.

Are you looking for more fun and colorful K-12 math video lessons that your kids will love?

By Anthony Persico

Anthony is the content crafter and head educator for YouTube's MashUp Math and an advisor to Amazon Education's 'With Math I Can' Campaign. You can often find me happily developing animated math lessons to share on my YouTube channel . Or spending way too much time at the gym or playing on my phone.