Maths Week Newsletter December 16/12/21

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Welcome to the December Newsletter
We want to say a HUGE thanks to everyone for their support this year.
There is lots to look forward to in 2022, but for now we want to wish you a very happy Christmas!

In this issue:

Best wishes,
The Maths Week Team
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Advent STEAM Calendar

Looking for fun and festive STEAM activities? Check out our Advent STEAM Calendar every day until Christmas for lots of fun ideas including puzzles, coding, crafts and more!

Find a daily activity on our social media channels or on our website.
Maths Week Survey Winners
 Thank you to all the teachers who took part in our Maths Week survey.
We were delighted to have 2,498 teachers respond to the pre-survey and 412 teachers respond to the post survey, a 63% increase to 2020. 

Well done to the following teachers, who are prize winners from our draw:

Maths Week 2021 in Numbers

88% of respondents organised a Maths Week event in their school, with 26% organising more than 5 events, 16% running 3 events and 13% running 4 events.

88% of respondents used resources and advice from the Maths Week website to organise events in their school.

Reasons for participating in Maths Week.

  • 79 % of teachers engaged with Maths Week to raise pupil's awareness of the importance of maths in their lives and in their future, while 74% of teachers took part to encourage positive attitudes towards maths.
  • 72% of teachers found the Maths Week posters a useful resource.
  • 57% of teachers believe Maths Week will improve a pupils' attitude towards the subject.
  • 54% of teachers believe Maths Week allows them to try new ideas in their classroom.
  • 51% of teachers believe Maths Week has a positive impact on their pupils.


  • 40% of respondents had used materials highlighted in the newsletter in their teaching
  • 36% and 52% stated they always or sometimes read the maths week newsletter. 40% and 50% found it was always or sometimes interesting. While 36% and 54% found it was always or sometimes useful.


Attendance issues.

When asked what issues teachers faced when attending Maths Week events, 59% cited timing, 30% age-suitability, 30% COVID restrictions and 16% internet connection as the main issues.



Resources have proven to be highly popular among teachers, with 94% of respondents remarking that they would like to see more Maths based resources prepared by other teachers.

Going forward 63% of respondents remarked they would like a pre Maths Week webinar to help them prepare for future events, while 73% would like additional resources. 

These surveys are very important to us and we will be considering very carefully how we can take your views and suggestions and make Maths Week even better for all!
Making Maths Week More!
Based on your feedback from Maths Week 2021, that teachers would like to see more resources from their colleagues, we would love to work with teachers to share their maths resources. 
We would particularly welcome resources as Gaeilge, and are committed to translating more events to ISL going forward. 

We will be in touch in 2022 with more details on how you can contribute!

Have you visited our website recently?
We've been busy making updates to make our website more user friendly, which includes adding a Teachers' Area and a Parents' Area


Dates for your diary in 2022:

Peter's Problem

Register by emailing your name and school to

January 12-14th 
BT Young Scientist & Technology exhibition, online

Robert Boyle Winter School, online

March 5-11th
Engineers Week & SE EngFest

March 23rd
World Maths Day

April 12-14th
Mathematical Association Conference ‘Mathematical Visions’, online

April 20-21st
EUSEA22 Conference, Cork

June 20-24th
24th Conference of the International Linear Algebra Society, Galway

October 15-23rd 
Maths Week Ireland

Follow us on social media to join in our
Puzzle of the Week every Saturday!
Follow us on social media for updates:
Facebook: @MathsWeek
Twitter: @mathsweek
Instagram: MathsIreland
LinkedIn: Maths Week Ireland
Tiktok: @MathsWeek
Get in touch, give feedback and feel free to share your ideas and resources.
Maths News

WIT Highly Commended at THE Awards!

Waterford Institute of Technology was highly commended at the THE Awards (Times Higher Education Awards) in the Widening Participation and Outreach category. The THE Awards are widely known as the “Oscars of higher education”. The commendation recognises the achievements of WIT’s Calmast STEM Engagement Centre for organising Maths Week Ireland. 

Creating our Future aims to build on the success of research and science in our battle against Covid-19 and asked the public how we can shape a better Ireland through research and science.

Over 18,000 ideas were received from members of the public. Minister Simon Harris said "The next step is for the Expert Committee and its Working Groups, chaired by Prof Linda Hogan Trinity College Dublin, to begin the task of analysing the data, to ensure that the findings reflect the public’s voice and recommendations are developed to inspire research in Ireland."

See here for more details

The Maths Map of Ireland
The Maths Map of Ireland is an exciting new project from Maths Week Ireland and the ESB. The project will see the creation of a Maths Map; to include historical places and people relevant to maths; maths trails and contemporary maths figures and places of interest. 

If you have any ideas what you would like from this service or are interested in contributing please email with the subject MATHS MAP. 

DCBEAGLE Challenges

BEYOND THE TEXTBOOK – Maths Week Ireland

Douglas Buchanan ~ ~ ~ @dcbeagle1

The end of the calendar year is nigh and all involved in education should be reflecting on all the good work they have done in the educational world in difficult times. Your motivation and determination encouraged the majority of the pupils to persevere especially in mathematics.


Spatial reasoning

On my travels around the country, with my infamous maths challenges, I have found that many of the young mathematicians have lost some of their spatial reasoning skills. This is reflected in the tangram and the domino activities. Of course, it would be impossible to implement as much time to this concept when ZOOM, etc was the only form of communication

In an article found in they point out several points about spatial reasoning:

“Visual-spatial skills are of great importance for success in solving many tasks we face in everyday life. Like following directions on map, driving a car or interacting with our environment. It is the key in developing a child’s sense of size, space, shape, position, direction and movement. Spatial reasoning is an essential math skill. Teaching math without addressing Spatial reasoning would be like making a broth without salt. It would have all the necessary ingredients and yet no taste.”

As you probably already know I do not like the idea of formal holiday work but encouraging the pupils to work through practical activities and puzzling, their mathematical skills will improve. Spatial reasoning is an ideal topic.


Tangrams – an old favourite

The pieces could be made out of card but ideally plastic / acrylic sets are much better. Learning Resources packs of six sets are £8.50. You may know of a person with a plastic cutter and / or 3D printer.

Tangram puzzles – sites include:
Aunt Annie’s
Fun Stuff to Do
Learn with Maths Games



The 12 pieces are versatile and many puzzles can be created. One of the first tasks is get the pupils to investigate the maximum number of pentomino shapes!

Pentomino Zoo


Other games / activities
Hex – board game
Tantrix – game involving hexagons and patterns on them


ApplicationDescription automatically generatedThese pentominoes were cut out for sheets of “glass drying” mats with the hexagons being 2cm in diameter. The 30cm x 30cm sheets can sometimes be found in Euro-type shops and you can get at least three sets from each.


The tasks were created by 11 year olds I was teaching at the time. I gave them 5 x 5 blank grids and the rest was up to them.


Puzzle of the month

THE BAG OF NUTS (Henry E Dudeney)

George Crackham put five paper bags on the breakfast table. On being asked what they contained, he said: "Well, I have put a hundred nuts in these five bags. In the first and second there are altogether fifty-two nuts; in the second and third there are forty-three; in the third and fourth, thirty-four; in the fourth and fifth, thirty." How many nuts are there in each bag?


Let Us Play

More fun for the pupils over the break and next term. Of course, there is an important message regarding play in maths and even in maths lessons. This can be summed up with the following strap line found in the Thinking Mathematically website:

“[The] goal is to support all students — especially those who have not been academically successful in the past — to develop a sense of agency and ownership over their own learning. We want students to come to see themselves as intellectually capable and competent — not by giving them easy successes, but by engaging them as sense-makers, problem solvers, and creators of meaningful and important ideas”

Simple board games

UNO card games

Different activities using UNO cards
The Rainbow Sky Creations – ages 5 - 11 – simple maths starters – ages 4 - 7


Other card activities
Making maths More Fun with cards – 89 page PDF booklet


The bag of nuts solution

The five bags contained respectively 27, 25, 18, 16, 14 nuts. Each bag can be found by subtracting the other two pairs together from 100. Thus, 100 - (52 + 30) = 18, the third bag.


Final words

The time is about to come for you to sit back and relax and charge the batteries. Have a wonderful break.

We wish you a happy Christmas and look forward to more maths fun in 2022!

Copyright © 2021 Maths Week Ireland Calmast. All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:

Maths Week Ireland, Calmast, STEM Engagement Hub, 

Cork Road Campus, Waterford Institute of Technology, Waterford 

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