Beebot Olympics and Maths project: Design an Olympic stadium #ukedchat

olympic torch

I managed to join in #ukedchat last night which was about cross-curricula planning for the Olympics. I tweet two ideas (neither of them mine!), and a few people were interested in more details, so here they are with the proper credits too!

1. Beebot Olympics (via Doug Dickinson @orunner)

This is a great idea from Doug that he suggested in our last ICT session with him. Steal the BeeBots from reception and get KS2 children working with them. The idea is to have the children to create challenges for one another (Olympic events) and then run a competition to see who can score the most points and win the gold. Suggested activities here, but I’m sure that children could come up with some of their own! Perhaps a long jump? Can you get your Beetbot to go the furthest within a set area, not going over the end line from a standing start?

Using a 6 Bot set. Divide class into 6 groups

Can be made to score points … better as a set of experiences

Activity 1                        Bulls eye target

  • Put a ‘bulls eye’ target out and a big stating circle
  • Bot starts outside the big circle and tries to score as many points as possible in 3 mins
  • It must come back the way it went and pause for 5 seconds inside the target

 Activity 2                        There and back

  • Start line and 3 lines various distances away
  • Bot programmed to get over first line
  • And back over start
  • Then programmed to go over second and back over start
  • Then over third and back over start

 Activity 3                        Point and go

  • A set of circles spaced around a central circle
  • Team must aim Bot to PAUSE inside each circle
  • Programmed one at a time

 Activity 4                        Maze

  • Use skipping ropes to design a simple maze
  • Pilot Bot through by direct programming one section at a time

Activity 5                        Dice Bot

  • A 20 number line
  • Bot starts on arrow
  • Throw die and program Bot to move to that square
  • Throw die again and reprogram
  • CLEAR each time
  • Repeat until Bot passes 20

 Activity 6            Bot Zig

  • Starting circle
  • 4 cones
  • Bot to be programmed to zig zag around cones and run straight back


2. Maths project to design an Olympic Stadium (via @keilystrett)

This sprang from an idea that Keily has used with her year 6 class for some time to consolidate and apply maths skills. I’m teaching a mixed year 5/6 class on my final placement and just finishing off National Numeracy Strategy block D unit 3. She suggested doing some project work in the last week of my placement so I could work with some guided groups on areas that children had difficulty with earlier in the block while providing some challenge and independent work for the everyone. She asks children to design their ideal bedroom, starting with a set area for the floor space, then introducing a budget to fill the room with furniture. Over a few days, she varies the tasks by introducing sales or budget cuts (using percentages), restricts the value of some items to a maximum, asks them to decorate and work out the amount of paint or wall paper needed (using area). I thought this was a great idea and as our theme at school was the Olympics this term, I thought I could do something similar with an Olympic stadium. Here are my ideas so far for the week:

Day 1: Start the investigation: set the challenge of designing a new Olympic stadium. Limit the stadium to a particular  area and/or perimeter (the size of their building plot) . Children to research what shape different stadia are and how they would work out their areas.

Day 2: Budgeting – buying equipment to go in the stadium – use calculators (Keily usually uses a few Argos or other catalogues for this, but I think I’ll need the children to look online for sports equipment specialists!)

Day 3: Budgeting – work out discounts and restrictions on various items (no single item over £x)

Day 4: Measurement/ conversions: Running track to be changed from m to km, mm, cm.

Day 5: Design a scale to measure the long jump or pole vault.

Another idea from last night was to work on angles – this could include angles for throwing games like shot put, javelin.

Any other suggestions or ideas would be most welcome! I’d like to leave it fairly open for the children to take in a direction that inspires them, so they may design football pitches, beach volley ball pitches or maybe even white water rapid courses! Who knows?

(note: Image found and created using which automatically adds a stamp with the attribution to any image you find)

Maths Magic

This morning I went to a regional meeting of the East Midlands Association of Maths Teachers to see Andrew Jeffreys perform some maths magic. I picked up loads of tips, not just on maths, but on teaching in general.

Maths and number:

Square roots – what is the square root of 1,234,567,654,321? Pretty tricky to guess at without a calculator

What if you know that:




now can you work it out? Yes? The square root of 1,234,567,654,321 is 111,111 (would have been great for 11/11/11 last week!!)

Yoikes! is a quick game that will allow you to assess children’s ability to use place value efficiently and in a meaningful way.

Draw ten spaces across a page (like hang man for a 10 letter word). Teacher calls out numbers from 1 to 100 and you have to put them on the dashes in order. If you can’t add a number, it goes in the yoikes bin.


As you can see from my example, I already had 71 and 96 in place when he called out 86, so it had to go in the bin. The first number he called out was 23 – could walk around the room as calling out the numbers so you can see where children are placing the numbers. If 23 was placed anywhere except the first 4 slots, you probably need to talk to that child about place value and it’s relationship in a number line to 100. You could use this game with 1-10 or 1-20 with younger children.

Multiplying by 1001

Everyone in the class pick a 3 digit number, then repeat it to make a bigger number:

234 turns into 234234

What is the probability of someone’s number being divisible by 2 exactly? Or 3 or 5 or 91?

Divide by 91, then by 11 and you will get 234 (works with all three digit repeated numbers)

because: 11 x 13 x 7 = 1001

Because 1000 times a number, add 000 but 1001 would lead to 000 plus the number again, so 234000+234=234234

So multiply a number by 1001 and divide by 1001 and get the same number (but that is boring!) so divided by 91 (13 x 7=91 then divide by 11).


Making regular pentagons from an A4 piece of paper.  There is a good explanation of how to do it here with pictures. The final pentagons have two flaps sticking out and two ‘pockets’ at the top, you can use these to slot together to make the dodecahedron.



There was the camel problem – a great one for a last-minute assembly! (the link is to one involving 17 camels, Andrew showed us 11 camels split 1/2, 1/4 and 1/6 by adding one more camel which is easier to explain and to demonstrate).

A nice little reminder for fractions (could also be used to show equivalent fractions) was to take an A4 sheet of paper and fold it whilst writing the number of thicknesses on the sheet as you went, and the number you started with. You end up writing fractions on each piece until you end up with this:


…which will make a great display to help children remember which fraction is which and how many quarters in a half etc.

Games:  Nim  to play to think about strategies.

Think of a number – visual demonstration of the proof:

Think of a number, double it, add six, divide by 2, subtract original number. Everyone stand up, sit down if you got 0,1,2,3 (we all sit down at 3).

Do a visual mathematical proof for it. Put mental ‘star’ in one hand with your number in it, photocopy to other hand, then throw it back, (now got 2 stars on left hand), catch six imaginary pennies in right hand, then slice it in half, (now got one star in one hand and 3 in the other), throw star away, left with 3 in right hand.

Neat Fibonacci sequence trick:

Pick any two numbers, then add in Fibonacci sequence until you have 10 numbers, ask children to sum them. When you get to the 7th term, you can just multiple that by 11 (i.e. times by 10 then add 1x the number) and that is the same as the total. So when you get to the 7th term on a flip chart, write the total down on the back of the flip chart and turn it round once the kids have summed the total.

Teaching tips:

On the PGCE we have learnt how to use ‘think/pair/share’ but Andrew added another two steps which work well for maths. First ‘visualise’ your answer (silently) then look at your partner. Only when BOTH of you are looking at each other, do you share your answer. Stops one partner racing ahead of the other.

One hundred squares – be wary of using them, they can be very confusing for counting on and counting back. The small numbers are at the top, the big ones at the bottom, you count left or right or up or down depending on if you are adding 10 or taking it away… much better to use counting on and back with long number line.