I’m going to start off this post with a little bit of honesty… During our recent input about the maths within board games I was kind of (very) distracted by a ‘Where’s Wally?’ jigsaw puzzle so I didn’t quite manage to make a lot of notes on the subject… But never mind! it’s time to explore the mathematics within some of the nations favourite board games!
Throughout my childhood I would always get a new board game for Christmas- without fail. The whole family would sit and play the newest edition of ‘Monopoly’ or ‘Guess Who’ instead of watching the Queen’s speech. But little did I know that these board games weren’t just a way to escape the Christmas TV but were actually forcing me to use mathematics even during the holidays (sneaky…)
I feel like the best place to start when talking about board games is obviously with Monopoly. Although it may seem like a game you can win using luck, it’s actually a lot more complicated! Monopoly uses chance, probability, percentages and much more. There is actually a science behind winning the game so, if you want to impress (and probably annoy) your friends and family this Christmas just watch this short video, follow the rules and you’ll be sure to win every time!
However, monopoly is not the only game which uses maths. Jigsaw puzzles (just like the Where’s Wally one I was so easily distracted by) also use maths. Jigsaws use tessellation to ensure all the pieces will fit together, they use distribution and fractions.
So, if you, your son, daughter, sibling, etc is ever asked to take a board game into class on the last day of school, it’s only because they’re mathematical!
I’ve always had a very love/hate relationship with mathematics. Throughout primary school I was always in the top maths group, coped well with the work I was given and, as far as I can remember, thoroughly enjoyed the work I was doing. Upon entering secondary school, I still felt confident with my maths abilities however I think some of the enjoyment started to die down, this may have been due to the work I was given or the way it was being taught in a secondary school setting. Despite this, I still felt very confident throughout my first and second year.
Going into third year, I was put into a credit/general Standard Grade class. Again, I felt very confident throughout my third and fourth year studies and began to enjoy it more which I believe was due to my teacher’s style of teaching. Admittedly, there were some aspects of the course which took me longer to grasp than others but I managed finish the two years with a credit grade 1.
My time in Higher Maths is where I believe my maths anxiety began. During Higher Maths we would be given a homework worksheet most weeks which we would have a week to complete and were not allowed to leave any questions unanswered without a valid reason (“I couldn’t do it” was not a valid reason). So, every week I found myself at my maths teacher’s classroom door asking for help with one or two questions on that week’s homework. A vast majority of the time, once the method had been clearly explained to me I managed to solve the equation myself. Looking back, this makes me think it wasn’t the numbers and equations I found difficult but the problem solving and the words used in the questions. Despite my difficulties throughout Higher Maths I did manage to pass all three NABS and was able to sit the exam. I think this also proves that I do have skills in maths and I am able to do the arithmetic I just need to build my confidence within the subject.
But how do I build my confidence? One of my goals for this year is to build my confidence in mathematics so I do not feel high levels of anxiety when teaching it in the classroom. I aim to do this by completing the Online Maths Assessment multiple times throughout the year, hopefully improving each time. Additionally, I plan to do some reading around the subject in order to familiarise myself with some of the vocabulary used.