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Make a cube out of straws and have a go at this practical challenge.


Reasoning about the number of matches needed to build squares that share their sides.

Little Boxes

How many different cuboids can you make when you use four CDs or DVDs? How about using five, then six?

World of Tan 15 - Millennia

Age 7 to 11
Challenge Level

This activity follows on from World of TanĀ 14 - Celebrations.

The visitors, Leone and Leo, had long since departed. Yet fond memories of them remained. They had been warmly welcomed, and everyone had enjoyed their stay. The children had been introduced to a wide range of new foods, finding that they did actually like most of them. They had enjoyed their trip to the old city and were amazed at all the people who lived in the houseboats down by the river. The hustle and bustle of all the people going backwards and forwards to work had never failed to amaze them. Where did they all go? What did they all do?

There had been many different sights, sounds and smells for the children to take in while they were staying. Yet one cultural difference has caused the most interest. It is this that the workers are discussing as they busily package up some leaflets to take to be photocopied.

Chi Wing: I couldn't persuade Leo and Leone that the millennium started in 2001.

Wu Ming: No, neither could I. Why do they believe that the millennium started back with the year 2000? The first millenium started in the year 1AD, not the year 0!

Wai Ping: Did you notice how they said the date? Two thousand and one!

Wu Ming: I thought that was clever of you to spot the way they say the date. Eighteen-oh-one, nineteen-oh-one, but two thousand and one.

Chi Wing: Yes, but we say each digit separately and then we can use 'nian' to show that it's a year. It does save us a lot of bother.

Wu Ming: We certainly confused the visitors when we said that we celebrated our New Year sometime in January or February - depending on the moon.

Wai Ping: Yep, and next year we shall celebrate the Year of the Snake, and none of us are getting any younger.

Chi Wing: True...

In the meantime, complete the outlines of the numbers.

Extra activities:
  • Research Chinese New Year - when does this take place? How is it celebrated?
  • Why do most countries celebrate the new year on January 1st? Can you find out some facts about the history of the calendar that we use today?
  • When do you think each millenium started? Why?

The story continues in World of Tan 16 - Time Flies.