Magazine article Mathematics Teaching

Caterpillar Collection

Magazine article Mathematics Teaching

Caterpillar Collection

Article excerpt

In 1994 I wrote about my 'Catalogue of caterpillars' (MT147, June 1994, p 12). This army of caterpillars have marched From one century to the next, supplying me with a wealth of opportunities in my new role of primary supply teacher. As only befits caterpillars, they have metamorphosed during the last ten years. I am now sure there is a clan of caterpillars suitable for every age range and every mathematical ability.

Interestingly, I was in a classroom the other day and found a set of marked caterpillar work so their fame continues to spread, but I couldn't spot the mathematical excitement. Caterpillars get very despondent if they become part of routine exercise.

You may recall that the first set of caterpillars, which I have since discovered originate in the Panamanian rain forests, have their ages written on their faces (which are always happy). They are very law-abiding (as am I) and obey the body rule

Even number [arrow right] divide by 2

Odd number [arrow right] add 1

Their tail (yes, caterpillars do have tails) is the segment with 1 in it.

Meet the 51 caterpillar

My Panamanian caterpillars all go to caterpillar heaven at the age of 100.

Some questions to inspire mathematical thinking:

* Longest caterpillar?

* Caterpillars the same length?

* Shortest caterpillar over the age of 80?

* Patterns in caterpillars (is there an even-even-odd-even-even caterpillar?)

* Caterpillar endings (how many caterpillars end with 5-6-3-4-2-1?)

The youngest caterpillar spotters enjoy Counting Caterpillars. …

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