Starting points

Starting points are a stimulus to prompt discussion on a topic relevant to mathematical applications and modelling.

Scratch for Maths

Scratch for Maths

Scratch is a programming tool that can encourage students to be creators of games and animations.

Pulsars in the mathematics classroom

Pulsars sm

A pulsar is a rapidly rotating neutron star. Jets of electromagnetic radiation stream from the pulsar and are observed as pulses 


Maths Around-sm

Starting points demonstrate that mathematics is everywhere in the world around us. The challenge is to identify its presence, access it, and apply it productively.

Tennis balls (a Fermi problem)


While Fermi problems are typically to do with some real world context, some can be purely mathematical.

How many tennis balls would fill your classroom?

Fundraising treats


A school plans a fundraising event for which it has a sponsor, and an equipment supplier for benches, tables and chairs. The sponsor agrees to pay an amount equal to 20% of the proceeds obtained, and the school agrees to pay the supplier 10% of the proceeds.

Does it matter whether the equipment supplier is paid before the sponsorship money is obtained – or vice versa?

Bush walking


It is not uncommon for companions who enjoy bush walking to differ in fitness and energy. When the slower walker starts the return trip, for how much extra time should the faster walker travel on the outward path before turning for home – so that both will arrive at the starting point at the same time? 

Piano tuners (a Fermi problem)

Piano Tuners - sm

Fermi used to challenge his classes with problems that, at first glance, seemed impossible. One such problem was that of estimating the number of piano tuners in Chicago given only the population of the city.

How many piano tuners are there in your state or territory capital?

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