Students simplify the fractions using prime factors and then they use a calculator to convert the fraction to a decimal. They then look for patterns in order to work out what the rule is for whether a fraction terminates or recurs.
The aim is to spot that once in simplified form, a fraction will recur if the denominator has any factor other than 2s or 5s.
This activity is based on one from a 1967 calculator handbook. It interleaves prime factorisation, simplifying fractions and using a calculator. It deepens students’ understanding of how fractions are simplified and leads to new knowledge about recurring decimals.
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A great little activity Jo, thanks for sharing. As per your description, it encompasses a number of key skills which students need to know.
This was an interesting activity for a strong y8 set. Once they had spotted that only denominators which were multiples of 2 or 5 terminated, some wondered why that should be, which led to an interesting discussion of what was happening when we divide numerator by denominator and got a recurring decimal.
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