Any of our vast collection of Maths Matters Resources Photographs can be used as a suitable stimulus for your maths sessions. First identify the appropriate maths sub-strand. Next find a photograph that best suits your needs and the students’ interests.

For example, how will you use this picture of the 9 robots as part of your daily mental warm-ups? Ask everyone to brainstorm different maths ideas based on this photograph. Challenge them to be creative, to think of as many maths possibilities as they can. We need to develop maths confidence in our students so that they can think for themselves, without us always providing the mathematical links for them.

Stage 1 responses might be:

“one more makes 10”, “2 fewer will be 7”, “double these are 18”, “that’s 3 rows of 3”, “3 and 3 and 3 makes 9”, “there are 9 x 2 legs – that’s 18 legs”, “nine robots with 2 fingers on each hand makes 9 x 4 – that’s 4 less than 10 x 4 – that’s 36 – they have 36 fingers altogether”, “if I put them into groups of 4 there will be 1 left over”.

Stage 2 responses might be:

“4 groups like this would be 36 robots in total”, “if each robot costs $7 that would be 9 x $7 – that’s $63 to buy the lot”, “ if each robot has a mass of 80 grams that makes 9 x 80 – that’s a total mass of 720 grams or 0.72 kg”, “if you need 3 small balls to make each robot arm that’s 6 balls to make each robot, or 9 x 6 = 54 small green balls altogether”, “ if each robot displaces 50 mL of water, 9 robots have the same volume as 9 x 50 = 450 mL of water”.

Stage 3 responses might be:

“If it takes 3 robots 3 days to do a job, it will take only 1 day for 9 robots to do the same job because they can work 3 times as fast”, “if the area taken up by these 9 robots is about 20 x 20 cm, you will need a box about 25 x 25 cm and probably about 5 cm high to pack them in for sale in a shop”, “ if robot eyes come in packs of 100, you can make 50 robots”, “if they are battery-powered and each battery lasts for about 75 hours, you could get 9 x 75 hours of work out of them – 9 x 70 is 630 and 9 x 5 is 45 so that’s about 675 hours altogether”.

Congratulate students for specific maths suggestions using the photograph as an initial stimulus, such as the most mathematical links, the clearest example of a maths calculation, the quality of their discussion. The more specific they can be the better. Your students will soon look forward to inspiring you with their quick responses, depth of thinking and breadth of vision.

And of course you can use each photograph as part of your maths session activities – part of a smartboard discussion, a worksheet, an activity card, a group challenge question.