Education Technology

Coding Hail Stones

Published on 05/26/2016

Activity Overview

This activity mixes some basic programming, little or no prior experience required and a series of questions that lead into a mathematical inquiry. Students explore the popular hailstone problem manually, leading to the desire to work more efficiently and hence the construction of a quick program. After the initial investigation students launch into their own inquiry relating to Hail Stone numbers.


Data representation and interpretation Investigate techniques for collecting data, including census, sampling and observation


Sequence, prime, composite, odd, even, algorithm

About the Lesson

This activity investigates the popular hail stone problem. Students write a simple program to automatically generate the numbers turning the focus of the lesson into finding patterns. Graph sequence length versus the initial number and look for patterns. Other options within this task include exploring prime and composite sequence length. Students develop a sense of inquiry and build an investigation around the hailstone problem. The activity provides for a range of entry and exit levels catering for a mixed ability classroom.