Algebra in Key Stage 3 is mostly generalized arithmetic, offering an explanation for the way that relations and operations between particular numbers form patterns. The idea of a mathematical 'proof' starts to emerge as students look at the structure of a situation, rather than simply more examples.
Algebra is also a useful tool in geometry, where the relationship between the various components of the physical situation can often be described using formulae - angle rules and Pythagoras, for example.
The utility of Algebra lies partly in how it can give one a starting point from which to tackle a problem, while the joy of Algebra lies in the final exclamation of "so that's why it works" !
This joy is a very special attribute of Mathematics, and one which we hope many students will appreciate for the first time at Key Stage 3.
So let's see about a few 'pretty' problems.
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Last modified: June 18, 2007