Mathematics

23rd June 2000 at 01:00
CROSS-PHASE. KIWI CONUNDRUMS. By Russell Dear. XY Books pound;8.

AGNESI TO ZENO: over 100 vignettes from the history of math. By Sanderson Smith. Key Curriculum Press pound;24.95

ONE EQUALS ZERO AND OTHER MATHEMATICAL SURPRISES. By Nitsa Movshovitz-Hadar and John Webb. Key Curriculum Press pound;13.95

CREATIVE PUZZLES OF THE WORLD. By Pieter Van Delft and Jack Botermans. Key Curriculum Press pound;19.95.

LEARNING AND DOING MATHEMATICS (2nd Edition). By John Mason. QED pound;9.90. Distributed by QED Books, 1 Straylands Grove, York YO31 1EB

QED Books offers much to stimulate maths teachers. Many valuable resources are from overseas - Kiwi Conundrums, for example, is an interesting collection of recreational mathematics from New Zealand.

QED has also recently become the UK distributor for Key Curriculum Press, a major US publisher of maths resources. Although some of these books have an unfamiliar style for UK audiences, they contain much we can use. For example, the vignettes in Agnesi to Zeno could act as stimuli for discussion and further research on historical and cultural topics.

Each vignette is presented on one side of an A4 page, with questions, activities and references to related reading on the reverse. Teachers have limited rights to reproduce the material for use in the classroom.

One equals Zero is a collection of 60 paradoxes, fallacies and brainteasers. A helpful planning matrix sows each activity mapped against relevant topics in the maths curriculum. Again, each activity is printed on one side of A4 and the teacher has limited rights to reproduce the material.

Teacher's notes following each activity give a possible resolution of the paradox and suggestions for further reading. Unfortunately the proof-reading of the teacher's notes has left some serious errors in the mathematical notation.

Creative Puzzles of the World is an attractive resource for the school library. It includes sections on tangrams, matchstick puzzles, magic squares, mazes and labyrinths. Many of the 1,000 puzzles are accompanied by beautiful and intriguing illustrations. More than 100 of the puzzles can be made using pencil and paper, wire, wood, string and other materials. Students interested in geometry should find great inspiration from this book.

Finally, QED has reissued John Mason's Learning and Doing Mathematics, first published in 1988 as part of the Open University mathematics foundation course. An exceptionally clear presentation on problem-solving, including many examples, emphasises the central relationship between specialising and generalising as the core of doing mathematics. I welcome this new edition, which includes a new preface and references to relevant websites.

Peter Johnston-Wilder is a senior lecturer in mathematics education at De Montfort University Bedford


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