Investigate this growing sequence of steps.

How many cubes did it take to build each model?

What is the surface area of each step model?

Draw a side (2D) view of each model, what is the perimeter of each drawing?

What would be the properties of the 100th model?

[See also Cube Construction and Matchstick Patterns]

Investigate further.....

A mathematical investigation is quite different to other mathematical activities. The best investigations are open ended and allow students to choose the way they work and how they record their findings. It is one of the few occasions when 'going off on a tangent' is not only acceptable but actively encouraged (within reason).

Students may ask for 'the answers' but this supposes that the activity is
closed. Investigations can always be extended by varying the initial
instructions or asking the question 'what if...?'. Sometimes students point out
that the instructions are ambiguous and can be interpreted in different ways.
This is fine and the students are encouraged to explain how they interpreted the
instructions in their report.

Some students may benefit from a writing frame when producing the reports
of their investigations. Teachers may suggest sections or headings such as
Introduction, Interpretation, Research, Working and Conclusion or something
similar.

Teacher's notes for this investigation and solutions to Transum puzzles, exercises and activities are available when you are signed in to your Transum subscription account. If you do not yet have an account and you are a teacher, tutor or parent you can apply for one by completing the form on the Sign Up page.

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