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How to work with Factors and Multiples

Factors and multiples are common terms used in your Maths lessons, and you need to know how to work with them. But, before you start revising, have you ever wondered how we even started using numbers? When did we start to use them and why?

Obviously, humans are now incredibly adept at using numbers, and they are crucial to so many aspects of our lives. However, it cannot just be us who are able to process numbers. The ability to do this is beneficial to the survival of species and many different animals are able to do so. Animals use numbers to avoid predation, find their way around and socialise!

Bees are amazing animals in many ways, but they can actually estimate how many landmarks they fly past to reach food. This helps them to measure how far a food source is from their hive. Scientists have even shown that bees can count up to four, and recognise the concept of zero.

Different birds have developed strategies for alerting others to potential predators. Black-capped chickadees, like many other animals, produce an alarm when they spot a predator. The chickadee produces a “chick-a-dee” sound (hence its name). Amazingly, they will adjust the number of “dee” notes at the end of the alarm  to let their fellow birds know how dangerous the predator is. For example a relatively harmless great grey owl only warrants two “dee” notes. This is because it is too big to move quickly enough through the trees to catch them. Whereas a small pygmy owl, one of the most dangerous predators, gets four “dee” notes. Clever stuff!

Sticking to birds, some species have developed the ability to count eggs as a means of avoiding raising other bird’s young. For example, American coots sneak their eggs into each other’s nests. This is so they do not have to do the hard work of raising their chicks. However, studies suggest that coots lay their own average-sized clutch, and then can tell if any additional eggs have been snuck in. These ones they will ignore!.

Lionesses count how many roars from another pride before they decide whether to attack or run.  There are spiders which will track how many prey they catch in their web, and ants which count their steps. Almost all animals studied by scientists can tell the difference between different numbers of objects. Maybe it is not just human children who have Maths lessons!

“How to work with Factors and Multiples” explains what factors, prime factors and multiples are. It includes explanations of how to find factors and multiples, and how to complete a Prime Factor Tree. Included, as always, are questions to try, and answers to check your understanding.


To see the guide, click on the picture below.


Factors and Multiples


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