STEM – Interlocking Cubes

York, Saturday 16th February 2019  

A truly inspiring and invigorating session that through numerous and exciting activities unveiled the mysteries. It was exciting and thought provoking, relating to multidisciplinary connections within mathematics such as number theory, geometry and algebra not to mention probability for tackling non-routine, quasi- unstructured non-familiar problems using interlocking cubes as manipulatives which are aimed to promote and develop reasoning, conjecturing, multi representations of patterns and modelling as well as a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts.

Through colour matching, counting and shape design, we were able to work on and analyse different mathematical concepts and situations, some of which caused, at times, a great deal of cognitive conflict. For instance, we were given a printed sheet with an array (or matrix) of natural numbers ranging from 1 to 100+. We then discussed different strategies to find factors, prime factors and multiples of each number, employing pattern-discovery techniques or strategy by means of coloured interlocking cubes.As it happened, it was later revealed that the only numbers left on the printed board were in fact prime numbers.

From this activity we moved onto designing cubes of different sizes, areas and volume with the intention to establish and work dimensions of sides, faces and elevations of all cubes using algebraic expressions in terms of n. Not only that but also through this activity we were able to investigate and analysis squared numbers and triangular numbers as well as sequences of numbers. The more we interacted with the cubes the more we realised how much it was possible to learn and teach different strands of mathematics using these yet sensational and incredible little cubes.

Definitely one of the most interesting sessions I have encountered so far. I felt like my senses were fully awake and my level of intellectual curiosity expanded further. Undoubtably, by working with interlocking cubes we were able to see and appreciate the beauty of mathematics.

I wish the session could have gone on for much longer. In fact, I was not ready to leave the room when the time was up.

Victor Gonzalez