Taking mathematics outside of the classroom

In her video series on Making Maths fun, Mathematics teacher Holly Millican shares three activities she uses to get students outside of the classroom and applying mathematical concepts to the real world.

Each of the activities can be used for a range of different topics and with students of different ages and abilities. The first activity is called parabola selfie, and it tries to move students away from seeing non-linear relationships as just a random line on a Cartesian plane in their books, into something they can actually see in the real world.

‘They need to go out into the real world and find a parabola somewhere, it can be anywhere. They need to then firstly take a selfie with the parabola, showing that they did indeed find it themselves and they haven't just taken a picture off the internet.

‘Then they need to take a picture of the parabola on its own and we upload it to Desmos [a free online graphing calculator] in class so that they can graph the parabola, find its axis of symmetry, find its vertex, and find the equation of the line. So this falls under the 5.3 strand and I would usually do this activity with the top Year 10 class because it is quite in-depth,' Millican says.

The second activity she shares is bean bag algebra, a game that involves students working in teams of two to four and solving equations on a worksheet.

‘Now students are then to take turns running up to the pre-drawn chalk circles and tossing their beanbags into the circle that contains the number of their choice. Then as a team, they are to substitute this into each of the equations in the worksheet,' Millican says. ‘This activity promotes collaboration and focuses not only on content knowledge, but on teamwork skills as well…'

The third activity Millican shares is called Yahtzee Relay – an algebra-style activity that requires students to strategise with their teams.

‘Now this is the sort of activity that doesn't have to remain just with algebra, it is quite easy to adapt it into a whole host of other content as well to use it with the whole range of different topics,' Millican says.


How often do you get students outside of the classroom to apply concepts they’re learning about to the real world? What impact does this have on their engagement with the lessons?

Consider the three activities that Holly Millican shares in today’s video. Are there any that you could use in your classroom? How would you adapt the activities to better suit the skill levels of your students?