Thursday, 1 December 2011

Three Acts - F1

This is my first attempt at a "Three Acts" activity - an idea proposed by Dan Meyer. This activity is for a much younger audience, I used this activity with class of 11/12 year old students.
For more information on this concept see "The Three Acts Of A Mathematical Story - Dan Meyer" - you will also see much better examples.

Act 1 – Malaysian Grand Prix Qualifying
The hook!!

Hopefully your students will want to know who wins.
Ask the students to predict who will win - get them to write it on a scrap of paper fold it up and put it away until the end of the lesson! (It is a complete guess to them - this is to get them to have some ownership / engagement in the task).

Act 2 – What we need

Ask the student what they need.... (Do not just give them it - like our typical text book does). 
The students need the drivers and their times so after a very quick discussion my students asked for this. 
I gave them the top ten drivers and their times given on separate cut out sheets ideally cut out and laminated – purely for aesthetic purposes. (Example below)

They then have to order the top ten drivers.

Act 3 – The reveal

I then let the pupils enjoy the last 5 / 10 minutes of the qualifying session or a screen shot (let them finally watch some video in maths). They will then see if they were right!


What is the difference in times between Vettel (first place) and the other drivers?

Average speed?

The goods! - the files are very big - sorry. Any advice on how to make them smaller?

Let me know what you think.


  1. I like the Act II. I suspect your students really enjoyed this one.

    Something is missing for me in Act I, though. I wasn't left wondering who would win. And even if I did wonder that, there was nothing in the video that would let me make anything but a complete and total shot in the dark as to my guess.

    I'd like Act I to include something to help me with that. Maybe a mention of who won the last few races, or who has a new ride that is supposed to be fast, or anything like that so I can feel like my guess is based on something.

    I hope you come up with more of these. The consultants I work with have been trying to come up with ones for younger students. We're on the right track here.

  2. I love the context that this gives to ordering.

    I haven't worked with young kids enough so was this a challenge for them?

    I am reminded of Dan Anderson's and I wonder if this could be adapted for a younger audience, so that students have to make decisions with different types of info. It seems pretty obvious that the racer with the smallest time will win, but there's more thinking involved about the racer with the most horse power.

    It's great to see primary teachers jumping in on the three act framework, I think Math teachers are going to see a huge shift if at all grade levels we are developing rich contexts for problems.

  3. Hi Tim, thanks for feeding back. My students found this activity challenging because of the varying number of decimal places and whether more decimal places means a bigger number, only a couple of students got the correct order (which was pretty depressing). I will check out Dan Anderson's problem it sounds more challenging, could be good as a second lesson. Regards Damian.

  4. Hi John, thanks for the feedback. You are completely right about Act 1, I think I put the video in because I enjoyed it so much. I will see what I can find to change Act 1. The pupils loved it, they wanted to know the answer and they were desperate to get the order right. They also enjoyed watching some video in class.

  5. Damian I am glad that this turned out for you! I thought of you when I made this post,, tell me what you think.

  6. I have downloaded the goods, as I believe this will be excellent for a plenary with my bottom end KS3 classes.

    Act 1 for me was a little long. I have clipped the clip to get rid of the 'Opening Credits' part to leave the 'BBC Sport' logo into 'Formula 1 Qualifying' screen and to leave the rest of the 'theatrical trailer' part.

    Act 2 is excellent and will look great in colour and laminated.

    Act 3 is too long for my liking. Haven't yet got round to thinking about what I can do with it, but the file is huge.
    I use a file converter for my video - iWisoft Free Video Convertor - and that tells me that even without shortening the file, converting to .mov will make it 78.9MB instead of the 500MB+ it currently is!

    Hope this helps.

  7. I agree - I thought a lot about the length of both clips. I have just downloaded iWisoft Free Video Convertor and it is a great tool. Any chance you can send me a link to your shortened files? Thanks for the comment, nice to get some feedback.