Lessons in which pupils use maths to tackle a world-threatening virus and other fictional problems are to be promoted in schools as part of a new government-backed project.
The scheme, to be launched early next year, will provide free key stage 3 lesson materials, designed to capture young people's imaginations.
The emphasis will be on lateral thinking, which is given comparatively little emphasis in classrooms at present and has proved a weak point for England in recent international studies.
The Bowland Maths resources are a series of more than 20 problem-solving exercises, most using imaginary situations as backdrops.
They include "Outbreak", in which pupils are told that a virus is threatening the world, and "Murder at Mega Bank", in which they help to solve a crime.
Several sports-related lessons are also planned, including "In or Out", in which pupils use maths to decide whether an umpire's decision to declare a batsman out in an England-Australia test match was correct.
The resources, some of which involve computer games, will be publicised in schools from the spring under a pound;4 million scheme jointly funded by the Government and the Bowland Trust, a charity.
Quentin Thompson, maths adviser to the trust, said: "The aim of this is to do two things - first to provide more fun and engagement for KS3 children; and second to encourage teachers to realise that there are other ways of teaching maths, not just the conventional approach."