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Making Tracks

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

For most students this problem will be outside their ordinary mathematical experience.
There is no frequently-used technique which may be just applied in this new situation.

Talk helps enormously in a problem like this. Questions to prompt thinking include :
  • What difference can you think of between the front and the rear wheels ?
  • What is the connection between the front and rear wheels which, for example, wouldn't be possessed by two uni-cyclists going along the path ?

These suggestions from the hint page may be useful :
  • Find a bicycle and experiment.

  • Trace a curve on paper and imagine a cyclist following that curve with the front wheel, and then consider the possibilities for the back wheel ?

Above all this is a good problem not to rush .

Leave the way into this problem left open and allow students to bring along fresh thoughts from time to time. The emerging solution will be much more satisfying and the process a much better experience of real new mathematics emerging.