News

Bringing maths to the masses

Published: 30 Sep 2019 00:01
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Education

Creative projects and activities planned for biggest ever ‘Maths Week Scotland’.

More than 100 different activities - from weather forecasting to codebreaking - are part of the biggest Maths Week Scotland ever which kicks off today.

Supported by a £70,000 small grants fund, the events are designed to spark the interests of young and old across schools, science centres, adult education centres and nurseries.

The week-long festival of all-things-numbers will be launched by Education Secretary John Swinney at a ‘Mathletics’ event held at the home of Scottish Rugby BT Murrayfield Stadium. Teams from more than 30 secondary schools across the Lothians will scrum down in a series of maths-themed challenges at the final of ‘Enterprising Maths’.

Mr Swinney will be tweeting maths challenges - produced with the help of the Scottish Mathematical Council - during the week, with the best solutions then being illustrated in videos featuring maths teacher Chris Smith and his pupils from Grange Academy in Kilmarnock.

National Museums Scotland is running events at its sites throughout the week.

Former BBC weather forecaster, meteorologist and maths advocate Heather Reid is also adding her celebrity experience to proceedings, helping pupils at Sprouston Primary School in Kelso to interpret and bring to life data collected by their own weather station throughout the week.

John Swinney said:

“We started Maths Week Scotland in 2017 to give everyone the chance to engage with maths in a creative and engaging way. The enthusiasm, commitment and passion of teachers, learners and maths champions has helped Maths Week Scotland grow every year since. It is fantastic to see events for people of all ages and all backgrounds to come together and appreciate the maths all around us.”

Heather Reid, affectionately dubbed ‘Heather the Weather’ for her breezy forecasts on BBC Scotland, said: 

“This year’s action-packed Maths Week Scotland explores the importance, usefulness and beauty of maths at events in schools and learning environments across the country. Good maths skills open up a wide range of excellent job opportunities, and help us to lead more successful lives.

“Maths lies at the heart of modern-day weather forecasts and climate change science. I can’t wait to visit Kelso and discuss the maths of weather with some young forecasters.”

Katie Oldfield, Maths Week Scotland Coordinator at National Museums Scotland, said:

“We all use maths in our everyday lives whether we realise it or not. Activities taking place throughout Maths Week give children and adults the chance to experience the fun and creative side of maths and improve their maths skills.

“From codebreaking and enigma machines, discovering the maths behind the creation of Edinburgh Castle or exploring the universe through maths - there really is something for everyone.”

Background

Maths Week Scotland was started in 2017 to encourage Scotland to take a positive view of numeracy and maths.

Information on activities taking place throughout Maths Week Scotland can be found at www.mathsweek.scot. National Museums Scotland are funded by the Scottish Government to deliver Maths Week Scotland.

The Big Plus is a free service from Skills Development Scotland that puts you in touch with a local tutor, who can help you with reading, writing or numbers. Call 0800 918 800 or visit The Big Plus for more information.

The Deputy First Minister’s Maths Challenge, produced with the Scottish Mathematical Council, can be found on the Making Maths Count website.

The Maths Week Scotland Small Grants Fund partnership between the Edinburgh Mathematical Society, the Glasgow Mathematical Journal Trust and the Scottish Government has allocated £70,000 to 110 organisations supporting maths activity in every local authority area throughout the week, including:

  • Cedarbank School in Livingston is running three days of ‘Skills for Life’ games and challenges and inviting the other Additional Supports Needs schools in West Lothian, Stirling, Falkirk and Clackmannanshire for a regional challenge
  • Greenock Recovery Alcohol Support Project (GRASP), Greenock has sessions of numeracy support for individuals and families recovering from alcohol addiction with support to access to SQA awards
  • Linlithgow Girl Guides have an Escape Room with a maths focus
  • West Dunbartonshire Council are holding a Maths Olympics across early years and primary schools in the local authority
  • Anderston Primary School Parent Council in Glasgow is developing its own Maths Trail in the school and local community and Escape Games are being designed and delivered by the parents
  • Perth and Kinross Council have a large-scale family event across the local authority supporting and encouraging numeracy learning together at home – with the enticing offer of Dice, Dominoes and Doughnuts
  • Workers' Educational Association are providing numeracy skills and confidence workshops for charity shop staff in Govan, Glasgow
  • Joint Trades Union Learning events are being held for working parents and guardians supporting learning approaches and techniques in the classroom to encourage parental engagement and confidence with their children’s maths homework
  • Farrans Construction in Aberdeen is delivering ‘Working with numbers, robotic style’ sessions created for local schools
  • Over 500 S1-4 pupils at Woodfarm High School in East Renfrewshire are collaborating to create a giant Sierpinski Pyramid
  • Coachloads of primary pupils from all over Dumfries and Galloway are heading to ‘Bubbly Maths’ shows

There will also be talks and maths performers in the Western Isles, the Highlands, Dumfries and Galloway, Scottish Borders, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Airdrie and Midlothian.  All of Scotland’s science centres are providing specially-designed activities for schools, adults and families.