Puzzle corner: The strange case of the steel helmet

A short intriguing starter activity for pupils presents them with a puzzle to solve.

In the First World War, why did head injuries increase when the metal helmet replaced the cloth cap as part of the British soldiers’ uniform? 

The answer is not obvious at first sight as you can see from the downloadable PDF file where all the answers on the sheet were provided by students.  Whilst ingenious, none of them are correct. The real answer relates to the nature of statistics. The number of head injuries went up because it now included those that previously would have been counted as deaths not injuries. So, the steel helmet was successful.  Students need to think laterally to come to the answer.  As such it provides a really good thinking skills activity.

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