Tes Maths ROTW: Topic-based lock problems

Craig Barton
03rd April 2017

Tes Maths Resource of the Week

Resource title: Topic-based lock problems

Resource author: stroevey

What is it?

Just like the rest of the nation, I've become a little bit obsessed with escape rooms over the past few years. And now, much to my delight, I'm able to bring the same level of nerdy excitement into my maths classroom! How? With this collection of lock problems, covering a whole host of topics from ratio to probability.

The concept is simple. Pupils work their way through a series of questions, in which the solutions provide a key component of the final code. After using a slick bit of algebraic substitution, they are ready to try out their answer on the combination lock at the front of the classroom.

Although students are essentially just working through a series of questions, this fun format leads to levels of engagement and determination that worksheets alone rarely induce.

How can it be used?

The author provides a really comprehensive series of instructions to follow. While it may seem like a lot of effort to set up at first, it really isn’t. Invest in a cheap combination lock and a tin box and you're away!

In terms of support for students, I often use my now famous counter technique, in which I give each group a counter that they can exchange for a single hint from me. And to extend, I get students creating their very own lock problem for their peers (or teachers!) to solve.
 

Craig Barton

Craig is a secondary maths teacher in the North of England.


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