From WOW to WHY?

Age 5 to 18
Article by Liz Woodham and Alison Kiddle

Published March 2018.


Curiosity is often triggered when something unexpected happens. The tasks in our current primary and secondary features aim to draw students in by offering that element of surprise.

Each task in the features stimulates mathematical activity which leads to an unexpected result or a surprising pattern, creating a 'wow!' moment. With your support, we hope that 'wow' will lead to 'why?' as students develop a desire to demystify what could, at first glance, look like magic, by using mathematics to explain what has happened.  

The excitement of students finding their own explanations rather than being shown or told by someone else cannot be underestimated. This ownership leads to another 'wow!' moment as all the pieces fall into place. You can support your students in making sense of these seemingly magical situations by encouraging them to:
  • use some equipment
  • find a useful picture, diagram or representation
  • form a generalisation
  • use algebra
  • create a proof
Once they have found explanations, perhaps they will be curious enough to ask new questions of their own and explore further. We hope you and your students are surprised and delighted by the tasks, and look forward to receiving their solutions.