Activities for Stand-Up Maths videos

Occasionally we make resources to go with the videos on Matt’s Stand-Up Maths channel  – we feature all these resources on this page. 

We also have a mailing list to receive occasional newsletters containing other free resources and news about maths events. Sign up to receive that email here


The Rocket Equation: mathematician vs astronaut

Here are the full notes and maths to accompany Matt and Chris’s derivation of the Rocket Equation.

We’ve also made a classroom activity about the energy required to power a rocket. 

Orbital Maths at NASA with Chris Hadfield

Here are the full notes and maths to accompany Matt’s interview with Chris Hadfield at NASA.

We’ve also made some classroom activities about the maths of orbit: learn about the orbit of the International Space Station and the length of a year on various planets.

Calculating Pi By Hand the Way Isaac Newton Did: Pi Day 2020

A-Level students could be challenged to derive Newton’s expression for Pi. Our resources include a sheet to introduce students to this problem, and a full break down of the derivation in the Teacher Notes. Or you could conduct your own mass participation Pi calculation in your school. We’ve included the first twenty terms of the sum in the Teacher Notes.

Will a falling pencil hit the table? We do the maths!

We’ve made a teacher cheat sheet of the workings out that Hugh does in this video.

Checking the exact angle of parking bays

We’ve made a trigonometry activity so your students can also explore parking bay angles.

Help, our train home is making 9 quintillion stops.

To link with Matt’s video about binary overflow, here is a magic trick that uses binary to make it work. Use it to introduce your students to binary.

The unbelievable solution to the 100 prisoner problem

Explore a simpler version of the prisoner puzzle with your students, using our activity sheets here.

How to make a fold-and-cut bat for Halloween!

Matt filmed a one-cut bat that he devised for Halloween. Here are the instructions to make the same bat and a challenge to find your own folding pattern.

Is the London Underground knotted?

In the video, Matt and friends trace out a Trefoil knot by travelling on the London Underground system. A Trefoil knot is the simplest non-trivial knot. Can your students find a different Trefoil, or a more complex knot, on the London Underground? Use our classroom resources.

Can you solve the frog problem?

In this video Matt gives us a fun problem about frogs. The problem we have made is a simplification of the problem in the video.

In our puzzle: A frog needs to cross a pond by stepping on all, some or none of nine lily pads floating across the pond. How many different ways are there that the frog could cross the pond?

Use our activity sheets to investigate this problem with your students.

Can we film a stroboscopic helicopter?

In the video, Matt gets to fly in a helicopter in the name of maths. For particular propellor rotation speeds and video camera frame rates, it can look like the propellors of a helicopter are not moving at all and the helicopter is floating in mid-air. Explore the maths behind this by watching Matt’s video and trying our activity.

How to mathematically hang a picture (badly).

In this video Matt introduces us to the Picture Hanging Puzzle: how can you hang a picture over some hooks so that if any one of the n hooks comes out, the picture will fall to the ground?

Can your students find a solution when n=2, or when n=3? 

We’ve made a downloadable cheat sheet for teachers with the solution for n=2 and n=3.

Eclipses can be approximated the same way as pi. [ONE TAKE!]

In this video, Matt witnesses a solar eclipse in Argentina! And does some maths. He demonstrates how the method of continued fractions, that can be used to find rational approximations of π, can also be used to predict when solar eclipses will occur.

Use our π approximation resources to introduce your students to the continued fractions method and challenge them to find a better approximation of π than 22/7, the approximation celebrated every year on 22 July (π approximation day). 

What’s the story with log(1 + 2 + 3)?

In this video, Matt explores an internet meme about logarithms. Here we’ve made some questions for students to have a go at before watching the video. Plus we provide the excel files that Matt used to do his maths in the video.

Calculator Number Trick: rectangle patterns

In this video Matt gets excited about a fun calculator puzzle. All numbers whose digits go around a rectangle on a calculator are multiples of 11. 

Can your students explain why this is? Can they prove it algebraically? As well as the proof Matt shows in the video we’ve made an algebraic proof of this puzzle as a cheat sheet for teachers. 

Recursive PowerPoint Presentations [Gone Fractal!]

In this video Matt and Steve Mould manage to create recursive fractals using Powerpoint. If you want the exact details of how to do this in PowerPoint check out the second video:

Here we’ve collected some ideas for making giant fractals with your class. Including a brand new guide for a low-prep paper Sierpinski triangle the whole class can help build.

Difference of Two Squares

In ‘The Difference of Two Squares’ Matt and James Grime prove that all odd numbers are the difference of two squares. And they try to show which other numbers are the difference of two squares, with reasonable success.

We have made some starting guides to help your students investigate which numbers are the difference of two squares. You can also challenge them to find a nicer, graphical proof that all multiples of four are the difference of two squares; we worked out a better proof than what’s in the video and it is provided as a cheat sheet for teachers!

Pi Day 2019: Calculating Pi with a balancing beam

On Pi Day 2019 Matt estimated π using moments and a famous result proved by Euler. We made some additional problems based on Euler’s sum.

How Many Calendars Are There?

Which week day will your birthday be this year? Or in 2020? When will you next be able to re-use your 2019 calendar? This set of tasks is about the maths of calendars, and is inspired by Matt Parker’s video ‘How many calendars are there?’.

Happy Thirdsday: finding a third using only halves

Thirdsday celebrates the number 1/3 and occurs when January 3rd (or 1/3 when written as a US date) falls on a Thursday, as it did in 2019. On Thirdsday 2019 we made this activity for your students about an intriguing sum that gives us 1/3.

Psychic Pets: can your pet predict the world cup results? 

Across the world in June 2018 pets were making predictions about the outcome of World Cup 2018 games with Matt Parker’s Psychic Pets project. These worksheets help explore the maths behind the Psychic Pets project. Curriculum topics covered include probability and combinations and permutations.

How thick is a three-sided coin?

We set up an experiment that people can take part in to help Matt estimate the dimensions of a fair cylindrical three-sided coin. Activities about the experiment for schools included.

Generating Pi from 1,000 random numbers

In this set of activities students recreate Matt’s PiDay 2017 experiment, and approximate π by rolling dice and spotting factors between pairs of numbers.