Seeking out the maths …..


I’ve spent this summer in Portugal travelling from north to south. It’s really amazing just how much mathematics you do encounter along the way when you’re looking with your ‘maths eyes’. There is a great deal of Moorish architecture in both Portugal and Spain and the Portuguese were great explorers and mathematicians. I just love the fact that a city, in this case Coimbra near Porto, has a ‘Mathematical Road’.

So I’m always on the lookout for mathematical images and interesting stimuli that I can use as part of CPD. I think they can also form a great (and easy) working wall with pupils encouraged to contribute their mathematical questions via post-it notes. Pupils can then follow a line of inquiry that is of interest to them. Sometimes there isn’t an answer and that’s ok too.


Pictures are a great stimulus for mathematical discussion and differentiation can be achieved vary easily by varying the complexity of the question posed or discussed.

Tiling and architecture are often symmetrical and provide a good starting point. The top left is a window that demonstrates both reflective and rotational symmetry. On the lower right, we could discuss repeating patterns, sequences, arrays or symmetry. On the lower left, we have a tessellation and could discuss angles and therefore the properties of shapes.

On the top right is a great grate that I happened across in Sintra, near Lisbon and couldn’t resist taking a photo of it. Assuming that the triangles are contained within a square, what other angles can you calculate? What other assumptions have you made?

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