Exploring Shape and Space With Anne Fieldhouse

My memory from the assessment centre day is linked to the cheerful lovely face of Anne Fieldhouse and her unfailing sense of humour. As a part of the maths scholars’ event, Anne delivered a vibrant entertaining workshop on exploring shapes and space.

The workshop consisted of three main practical and fun activities, all of which could be used as a way of bringing discussion into maths lesson and developing thinking and reasoning as well as promoting effective use of appropriate maths language. Anne’s interesting argument was that our curriculum has undervalued those who are more practical in their learning; who could be the potential engineers or artists of tomorrow. These are students who leave primary school with quite positive interest in maths but we then lose the enthusiasm and engagement of about two third of them somewhere along their secondary journey.

“A star is born” was the name of the first activity we did together, making Star of David using folding and cutting – a perfect activity that students can learn and take with them to their Christmas family gatherings to show off and entertain others. The activity covers wide area of topics in Geometry from KS2 to KS5 and there are several opportunities for in-class investigation and discussion in each step of folding and cutting. The activity easily accommodates topics like equilateral triangles, angles inside different shapes, polygons, angle bisects and trigonometry ratios. However, as Ann expressed, the possibilities could be endless if you don’t close your mind and look deep into it. Another activity of her presentation was a brief demonstration of how you can fold and cut an envelope into a tetrahedron, simple and quick but rather useful.

However, the best and most entertaining part of the folding workshop was making composite shapes out of train tickets - from the funny story of how she came into the possession of bulk amount of expired train tickets to the challenge of making a cube that can hold itself together. 

Each person would receive six tickets, enough to make one cube. The cubes, if made precisely, would interlock to each other to make different composite shapes. There again is a wide range of potential for discussions, including line of symmetry, composite shapes, and plan, front and elevation views of 3D shapes. 

You can find a decent demonstration of the folding steps here. It can be done by using game cards, tickets, business cards, etc. Try it in your lessons and if you have some creative pupils, they would probably come up with creations like this! Meet Bobita, special guest to maths scholar event:

Overall, what I took with me home from this workshop was inspiration for adapting practical activities and open discussions into maths lesson, as well as a handful of my own origami creations. 

By Laleh Akbarzadeh