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Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Bullseye! The mathematics of the dartboard....

Playing darts is a great way to help kids improve their numeracy skills - its fun, fast paced, and helps them improve their addition, subtraction and multiplication skills.
But the dartboard has a lot more to offer in terms of mathematics. Our department recently used it to both teach and assess a range of different skills.. and have a bit of fun in the process.

The project
At the beginning of this school year we ran a project with all of y7 and y8 about the mathematics of the dartboard. We began by getting all of them (yes EVERY SINGLE ONE - and we have got some very weak students) to construct their own dartboard using a ruler, compass and protractor. It took some of them several attempts, but in the end they produced some great work and improved their construction skills.

Then we asked them to complete a series of levelled challenges. They ranged from level 3 to level 7 and incoporated basic arithmetic skills, problem solving with numbers, reasoning about multiples, and thinking about how to approach a long task systematically.

Here are some example challenge cards

I really enjoyed doing this project with my classes and I'm looking forward to running it again next year with a few improvements. A key development for me came through the input of an English teacher in SLT who teaches some KS3 maths. She put together an assessment grid for us which enabled us to break the project down into a list of very specific skills and assess each student on every skill.

The fun stuff
The project itself was quite enjoyable to do and lots of students really enjoyed creating their own dartboards, but it really came into its own when we set up an inter-house competition linked to the project.
We invited all of y7 and y8 to take part and had about 100 students in total in the sportshall. We lined them up in their house groups infront of 7 different magnetic dartboards (one for each house). At the word GO! they began their team game of 501 down.

Here's how it worked. Each player had 3 darts. They threw their darts and worked out their total, then took away their total from the running total of their team. The next player could only take their shot when the previous player had worked out the correct answer. Maths teachers refereed each team and checked all their calculations.

It was very fast paced and the kids loved it. They were encouraging each other to use different addition and subtraction strategies "break the number down into tens and units", "take away the hundred first!" and generally having a great time doing mental arithmetic. Who would have thought it?

I've since had several y7 students ask me when the next maths related competition will be. Suggestions anyone?


  1. Great idea! Would you be willing to share all the challenges you set the pupils?

    1. Already done! They're on the tes with some of my other resources.
      There's a direct link to them in this blog - look in March, dartboard resources.