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Swings and roundabouts

Pupils playing on a swing

Aim

To introduce learners to working mathematically using a real world context and develop information and communication technology skills.

Action

Using playground equipment as contexts for work on circle theorems, triangles, trigonometry, gradients and equations.

Impact

Students are more engaged with mathematics and gained a deeper understanding of how mathematics can be applied in real contexts.

Wildern School employs a motivating context and well-structured tasks to exploit the use of information and communication technology in developing mathematical understanding.

By taking part in the project we think it shone new light onto mathematics and showed that effective use of technology is possible in every subject.

The mathematics department at Wildern School wanted to develop students’ mathematical understanding and their information and communication technology (ICT) skills using dynamic geometry and video analysis software, through working in a real world context. Delighted to see that this kind of approach is now highlighted in the curriculum opportunities of the programmes of study, they developed a year 10 module focussing on modelling using images from a children's playground as a resource.

Getting into the swing of it

The head of department worked closely with a consultant who helped with accessing and downloading free software to analyse a video of a swing in motion and advised on the most cost-effective motion tracking equipment and software.

Learners were not used to working in a real world context. Staff wanted to use an interesting context for the work with well-structured tasks where they could introduce the use of ICT.

Students took photographs of roundabouts, swings and slides to use for work on circle theorems, triangles, trigonometry, gradients and equations. The photographs were imported into dynamic geometry software so students could measure distances, angles and gradients. The learners wrote up reports on the project to show how they used various aspects of mathematics to analyse the playground equipment. They produced an impressive video to illustrate their work, with the aid of the school technician.

Learner engagement

Students were overwhelmingly positive about the project, 'I've been to the park twenty times and I've never seen the maths I do now'. The activity developed the students’ skills in the use of ICT to support learning mathematics. Teachers also noted how the students’ ability to answer more traditional questions on related topics had improved.

The mathematics department has gone on to trial activities from the BOWLAND MATHS professional development materials. Teachers now feel positively encouraged to try more activities of this type and also to develop links with other subjects such as science.

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