by Tom Danner

Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, and Basic Math


Tom Danner
To obtain a downloadable copy of the worksheet that accompanies this bulletin board, click on the button below.

TITLE: The Mathematics 500

SUBJECT: On the Food Network there is a show hosted by Alton Brown called Good Eats. On this show Alton describes kitchen tools as "multitaskers" and "unitaskers," the multitaskers being used for multiple tasks, and the unitaskers good for one task and one task alone; therefore he does not waste his time and money on unitaskers. This bulletin board is a multitasker. As a mathematics teacher I will not be teaching the same subject each period, and this bulletin board can be used for all subjects.

TOPIC: The topic will run concurrently with the classes.

INTERACTIVITY: This board is a game similar to most board games except there are no dice or spinners. The bulletin board has pockets that hold "mileage cards."Each of these cards has a question to answer or a problem to solve; each pocket can hold cards for a different subject so this board can be used by all classes.

Example of play: The students decide how long the race will be (i.e., how many laps, or how many times a student has to pass the start/finish line to win). They decide who goes first. The first person draws a card and answers the question. The card tells the student the number of spaces he may move his car, one spot for easy questions; up to four spots for more difficult questions. The student then follows the directions that are printed in the space he lands next to. The next student takes his turn, and so on.

DIRECTIONS for USE: As posted on the board:


    1. Decide who goes first and how many laps you want to complete.Pick your car from the four in the garage.
    2. Place the cars on the black track next to the block labeled "start". Keep the cars on the black track at all times. Move in a counterclockwise direction.
    3. Draw a mileage card from either subject.
    4. Answer the question on the card. If your answer is correct, move your car the number of spaces posted on the card.
    5. Don't know the answer? Don't move!
    6. Replace the card.
    7. Follow any directions in the box you land next to, then stop. Your turn is over. If the box is blank, then stop. Your turn is over.
    8. The next driver draws a card.
    9. The first person to cross the start/finish line the chosen number of laps wins the race.
    10. If there is a disagreement on the answer, check in a book, or ask a teacher.
    11. All of the questions are listed on the worksheet. Please take one to work on later.
      You may, of course, use paper, pencils, and calculators.

TIME: Games can take a lot of time. Truthfully, I do not see the students standing at the board playing this game for any length of time (see "OTHER COMMENTS"). But if they are drawn in by their natural curiosity all they truly need to do is answer a few cards alone or use them as flash cards with another student, and I've got them practicing math.

SPECIAL CONSTRUCTION: One of my hobbies is woodworking, and I tried to bring some of the procedures I would use in building a cabinet to the construction of the bulletin board. One rule of woodworking is to keep all fasteners hidden, and I've tried to keep fasteners to a minimum here. The letters in the title and all of the pictures were mounted using two pieces of double-sided mounting tape, one atop the other at three or four points.

The tape gave each element approximately 1/4" of lift from the board to add some texture. This method also allowed me to hide the staples used to fasten the poster board to the bulletin board. With the exception of the border and the four corners, all of the staples are under the track and the pictures. One of my favorite fasteners is 3M spray-on adhesive. I used this glue to fasten the infield to the green poster board; to fasten the track (thin cork sheet painted black) to the infield; and to fasten this entire assembly to the blue poster board. Before fastening the track assembly to the board I stapled and thumbtacked the blue poster board to the bulletin board. The GARAGE, handout pouch, and the mileage card boxes are also glued to the poster board. There is a thumbtack in each box and the handout pouch. The border is black-and-white checkered cloth cut into strips four squares wide. Each side, one square wide, was folded over, pressed with an iron, then held in place with Heat-n-Bond iron-on adhesive.

CREDIT: I did not offer any credit for playing this game or completing the worksheet. Theorists
tell us that students must take ownership for their behaviors. Each of the questions printed on the cards is also listed on the worksheet. The students' credit is the knowledge gained through practice they will be able to use on their next quiz or test.

OTHER COMMENTS: As I stated under "TIME," I do not believe the students will play this for any length of time while it is on the bulletin board. But it is eye-catching, and I do expect them to look through the cards and say, "I can do that," or "I don't know how to do that." If you have time to devote a full class period to a review, the track can be printed on 11 X 17 paper and used as a tabletop game. The cost was under $4 to have it printed in black-and-white and laminated at Staples. I printed the questions on perforated business cards I had laying around (Avery brand, #5376). Unlined 3 X 5 index cards would work; in fact, they would probably be better. More detailed questions could be used; the geometry cards were especially difficult to construct because the diagrams would lose detail when shrunk to fit the cards.

Questions arose about how the students would know if their answers were correct, and it was suggested that I include an answer key. There are a few reasons why I did not include the answers. The first is, if the answers are available, would they take the worksheet? Further, the rules state that if there is disagreement about the answer, they can check in a book or ask the teacher. If two students are playing, and player 1 disagrees with an answer player 2 gave, you can bet the teacher will be brought in to referee. Again, they must take responsibility for their learning. The practice can only help them in the long run. As I state in the directions for the worksheet:

There are a lot of benefits to doing this worksheet. Doctors recommend practicing math every day. Want to beat your friends at The MATHEMATICS 500? Solve these problems on a separate sheet of paper, and you'll know the answers the next time you play! Also an excellent review for your next test or quiz.

On my board I have boxes for algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and basic math review, with twenty cards in each box. If the bulletin board is constructed at the start of the school year, cards can be added as the year progresses and more material is covered.


  • If the board is used for one subject, then the boxes can be used for different levels of difficulty.
  • The students each take a card at the same time. The players could solve their problems and move their cars together. This would save a lot of time, especially when there are more than two players.
  • Extra credit could be given for completing a given number of problems.
  • It can be used for any subject.

Tom Danner
Spring 2008