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Mathematics - Investigative Mathematics using Historic Sites and Buildings
Teacher Led Visits       Suggested Activities       Activity Sheets       Other Information       Special Events


A visit to the Museum can offer an important opportunity for developing Investigative Mathematics.  Mathematics is embedded deeply in all of our buildings. Usually deliberately, but often unconsciously, people in the past used the wide-ranging skills of mathematics, number and algebra, shape, space and measures, to provide for their comfort, enjoyment and to show their status and beliefs.

The Museum attracts large numbers of visitors and data produced from these numbers can in itself be a structure of enquiry and investigation. Please contact the Schools Services Manager to discuss this type of activity.

Our site provides valuable contexts for using and applying mathematics and situations where children can see the need to gain new skills back in the classroom. Children need to be given the opportunity to select and use the appropriate skills in response to an enquiry, to collect data and to present the results of their investigation in a variety of ways.

Preparation must therefore include deciding what questions will structure the enquiry, and ensuring the children have the necessary skills.  

Teacher Led Visits

This fine timber frame building contains many examples of pattern, shape and measurement to explore. Come and enjoy a lesson in Victorian maths in this authentic school. Inspiring measurement possibilities and an example of a surveyors measuring chain. A working water mill,the large scale mechanism shows many mathematical and scientific principles. Many examples of pattern and symmetry in this building.  Dimensions and design of the wheel offer interesting problems and concepts. Repeating patterns angles and curves in this award winning building. An ideal place for work on pattern, measurement and symmetry. Building has a toll board which inspires work on Victorian maths. A rare example of a once common machine.  Bevel gears transmit power through angles.

Suggested Activities during the Visit

The Museum buildings and materials offer a wealth of opportunities to explore questions of Mathematics; here are some examples:

  • What shape is it and why was it chosen?
  • Is the building symmetrical and why is this so?
  • What patterns can we find, do they repeat and what are the rules?
  • What sets of features can we measure and why are they different?
  • Which was the most important feature and why is this?
  • How many and when and why?

For a discussion of the subjects proposed above. Click to view and/or print

Activity Sheets

Building patterns (With sheet for teachers)  NEW!  Click to view and/or print
Measuring the height of a building  NEW! Click to view and/or print
Observing and recording a building  (With sheet for teachers)  NEW! Click to view and/or print
Timber!  (With sheet for teachers)  NEW! Click to view and/or print
Follow the triangle trail to find these shapes around the Museum Click to view
and/or print
What mathematics was used in a building? Click to view and/or print
Which way and how far?  Make a signpost map. Click to view and/or print
What was important in the design of a building.  Look for symmetry, number patterns, and proportions Click to view and/or print
A worksheet linking Bayleaf to North Cray explores timber frames and bay construction and the layout of buildings.  Click to view and/or print
A worksheet explores the methods used in 16th century arithmetic. Click to view and/or print
A worksheet based on the Treadwheel investigates radius, diameter and circumference and volume calculations. Click to view and/or print
A worksheet based on Lurgashall Mill investigates the structure of the mill power train and gearing ratios.   Click to view and/or print
A worksheet investigates the structure of the windpump and gearing ratios.  Click to view and/or print

Other Information

How the Lurgashall Mill Works Detailed explanation and diagrams of the mechanism. Details

Museum Special Events

Museum Special Event Days cover a wide and interesting range of activities that teachers may wish to use to provide wider experiences to schoolchildren.  For a complete list of these events go to the Museum website.