Easter date algorithm

This activity is based on determining the date of Easter Sunday using a given algorithm; the activity is extended by asking questions about the long-term trends in the data.

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Overview of task

This activity is based on determining the date of Easter Sunday using a given algorithm; the activity is extended by asking questions about the long-term trends in the data.

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Strand:

Number and Measures

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Prior knowledge

Only requires familiarity with using formulae for number operations.

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Relevance to Core Maths qualifications

  • AQA
  • C&G
  • Eduqas
  • Pearson / Edexcel
  • OCR

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Suggested approaches

The problem here is to use an algorithm, known as ‘Ten Divisions to Easter’, to find the date of Easter Sunday according to the dictates of the Church and in accordance with both the Gregorian and Jewish calendars. You could introduce the algorithm by calculating the date of Easter Sunday for last year and then set the learners the task of finding the Easter Sunday date for this year and next.

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Resources/documentation

In addition to this overview there are:

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Relevant digital technologies

No technology is needed, except that for repeated calculations a spreadsheet approach would be needed.

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Possible extensions

The problem already has the extension of finding the earliest and latest date for Easter Sunday; these can be determined by finding the date for Easter Sunday for a large range of values.

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Acknowledgement

This is a resource developed for Core Maths by David Burghes (CIMT, Plymouth University) but based on the algorithm for the date of Easter Sunday given by Tom O’Beirne in his book Puzzles and Paradoxes published in 1965 by Oxford University Press.