Maths War with Syringes

17 September 2015 · 0 comments

in Maths Outdoors

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Recently I received a present. It was a set of syringes given to me by a friend who works in a laboratory. I’ve always used syringes for water play, mark making, as air pumps in technology projects and for having fun in the snow. I’ve always chosen the biggest syringes I could find – 100ml ones.

But this set fuelled the mathematical fire within me. Have a close look at the sizes and see what you notice – this is just the sort of thing to ask older primary aged children. Can you see:

  • The sizes of the syringes, as well as increasing in capacity, are mathematically linked.
  • The numbers in the squares allow you to quickly measure a smaller quantity than the total volume of liquid possible. The three biggest syringes (10, 20 & 50ml) are all multiples of the smallest two (2 & 5ml).
  • The capacity of the syringes are all multiples of 3 – 3, 6, 12, 24 and 60ml. Again this allows for lots of quick mental calculations.

So if I had enough packs of syringes, I would be challenging my class to work out the best syringe strategy for a water fight. For example, if you could choose between having 1 x 60ml syringe owned by one person or having 20 people on your team, all with 3ml syringes, which side is most likely to win? You will have to agree a set of rules for winning the fight and also what behaviours are acceptable or not.

So what is the best combination of syringes for the best chance of wining? I’ve no idea…yet… advice gratefully received.

(Oh and I have several sets of syringes so watch out!)

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