My S3 class have been learning how to solve simultaneous equations by elimination this week.

I set this problem for the class:

While this is not the most realistic of problems, it allowed the pupils to consider solutions in a familiar context. There were a few different methods used. Most tried trial and error but a few started with 20 chickens 80 legs and 1 pig 4 legs then adjusted the number of chickens until there were 30 heads.

After practicing the mechanics of solving simultaneous equations by elimination a few in the class were asking if next lesson we could do something more fun.

I wanted to provide an activity that would allow pupils to work together in a fun way that still allowed each pupil to practice solving simultaneous equations as an individual.

So I declared WAR!

This is a game I read about on denisegaskins.com

I have previously used it for evaluating logarithms, working out exact values for trigonometric functions and even converting between currencies. Endless possibilities.

Here’s my simultaneous equations version.

Here is the link to the document.

I made 7 sets of the questions – beautifully laminated and cut out with help from a pupil. I organised the class into groups of 4 and explained the rules.

- take a card each and solve the equations on your own
- add together your answer for x and y
- swop jotters and check the working (in case of cheating!)
- the person with the highest score is the winner and claims the 4 cards
- in the case of a draw, the person with the highest value for x wins
- then repeat
- at the end, the person with the most cards wins.

This was a very successful game. Even though the class were still solving equations individually, by adding a competitive element to it, the class were immediately engaged. I was very impressed by the willingness of each pupil to support and help each other even though it was a competition.

What would I change? Well. I tried to put some simpler questions in such as x + y = 8, x – y = 6 without realising that the pupils can work out the total of x and y without solving them. How did I not spot that to start with? However, I made the pupils check the working to make sure the equations were correct. Also, because of the time it takes to solve the equations, some pupils were sitting waiting for others – this wasn’t a huge issue but I might need to think of an additional task for pupils to do whilst they wait.

Looking forward to trying this out on different topics.

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