Making Mathemagicians With Algebra - Joyous Maths Pt. 2

These lessons were featured in a Primary 6 Algebra Joyous Learning Worksheet.

Extract B (part 1)


Go through the following steps mentally:

a. Think of a number.

b. Multiply this number by 2.

c. Add 16 to the result in (b).

d. Divide the result in (c) by 2.

e. Subtract the number in (a) from the result in (d).

What is your answer? Think of another number and go through the steps. Did you get the same answer?

PSLE math practice papers

While it is intriguing to kids who encounter this for the first time, the maths trick alone does not complete a trigger activity. What is needed is an explicit connection that skilfully leads students to the lesson of the day. Extract B (part 2) is a continuation of the maths trick, introducing the topic of the day Algebra to students.

Extract B (part 2)

Why is the answer always the same no matter what number you think of in Step 1?

Let us express the sequence of operations involved in terms of algebra.

a. Think of a number.

Let’s call this number z.

b. Multiply this number by 2.

z x 2 = 2z

c. Add 16 to the result in (b).

2z + 16

d. Divide the result in (c) by 2.

(2z + 16) ÷ 2

e. Subtract the number in (a) from the result in (d). (2z + 16) ÷ 2 – z

Simplifying the expression, we end up with 8.

(2z + 16) ÷ 2 z

= z + 8 – z

= 8

Now, you can clearly see that no matter what number you substitute for z, you will always end up with 8 as the answer.

Notice from Extract B (part 2) that Algebra is introduced to students in a natural, intuitive and fun manner. Intent on unravelling the maths trick, students become motivated to master the new topic of Algebra.

PSLE algebra

Algebra is introduced to students at Primary 6 and continues to be a heavyweight component throughout secondary level Maths. Building a solid foundation in Algebra goes a long way in helping students in their learning journey.

Providing authentic and meaningful contexts in Maths lessons

Authentic contexts are contexts taken from real life. Maths problems set within authentic contexts help students relate better to what they are learning. Besides this, doing Maths in authentic contexts also helps students become conscious of applying their mathematical skills in everyday situations. Compare Extracts C and D, from a Primary 5 topic Numbers to 10 million. To be continued…

Read part 1

Read part 3

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