NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ852603
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Sep
Pages: 9
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0268-3679
The Immortal Ant and the Expanding Balloon
Griffiths, Martin
Teaching Mathematics and Its Applications: An International Journal of the IMA, v28 n3 p150-158 Sep 2009
In this article we consider, via a specific modelling example, the educational benefits to be gained from running mathematical activities with our sixth-form and undergraduate students that, in modern parlance, might be termed "rich tasks". The idea for this modelling activity arose while the author was reading a popular-science book on cosmology (in particular, on the possible shapes of the universe). Light travelling around the universe was likened to an ant crawling around a balloon. A statement in the book regarding the ant's progress around the balloon did not entirely ring true with the author, and his subsequent investigations led to the activity described here. We explore several scenarios associated with the model in order both to pre-empt possible paths taken by the students and to be able to provide some guidance when necessary. Suggestions are given as to how the activity may be extended, and then, after highlighting the numerous educational benefits, we consider the potential pitfalls and difficulties associated with the delivery of tasks such as these.
Oxford University Press. Great Clarendon Street, Oxford, OX2 6DP, UK. Tel: +44-1865-353907; Fax: +44-1865-353485; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A