Talk at FYiMaths: Some adventurous things you can do with Numbas

Just before Christmas I gave a talk over Zoom to a meeting of the First Year in Maths network, titled “Some adventurous things you can do with Numbas”.

There were a few experienced Numbas users in attendance, so I wanted to show off some things you can do with Numbas that I don’t normally have the chance to talk about in my standard “Introduction to Numbas” talk.

I made an explore mode question based around called “CLP’s Christmas Adventure”, based around helping Santa get ready for Christmas. Each part demonstrated a different feature.

  • The question has a hub-and-spoke structure, with an information part showing your progress, which you come back to after completing each task.
  • The hub shows an SVG picture of Santa’s sleigh which fills up with presents as you complete the tasks.
  • The text on the hub page is chosen from a few question variables with the data type “formatted text”, so I can display different information based on the student’s progress.
  • One of the tasks is in two parts: first you give a threshold for “niceness”, and then you’re shown some niceness scores and asked to classify them, with marking based on the answer you gave in the first part. Another example of this pattern is the “design an experiment” question in the main Numbas demo.
  • Another task uses the “quantity with units” custom part type to ask for a mass value, and is another two-parter, this time scaffolding an estimation activity.
  • The final task uses a custom marking algorithm to combine the answers to two gaps, checking that the given width and height produce a box with an area in a certain range.

Here’s the recording of the talk, without the Q&A session at the end: (so you know, the picture in the recording is for some reason frozen for the first 20 seconds)

And here’s the question I made:

You can look at the question on the Numbas editor to see how it was made.