The Golden Touch

Thursday 9th January 2020

Midas ConstructionOpens a new window and Ashford SolicitorsOpens a new window in Exeter, hosted the AMSP event for Year 9 students, “Using maths to build a sustainable future”. 

The day was introduced by two Midas employees. Kerry gave an overview of the career pathways offered within the construction and engineering industry, along with a list of useful employability skills & attributes they would expect from their workforce, which were as follows:

  • Reliable, responsible and punctual
  • Good team player
  • Good communication (including listening)
  • Attention to detail
  • Able to think ahead
  • Problem solving / able to innovate
  • Able to use logic and apply practical knowledge

Allana then described “A day in her life” as a Quantity Surveyor and outlined the importance of teamwork, problem solving, and the need to be able to use maths in a wide range of areas, adding that practical skills can be taught or learnt.

Throughout the remainder of the day, students tackled a variety of mathematical problems and they demonstrated many of the skills listed above. They investigated the optimum number of tables and chairs a company could manufacture, linking their creative ideas with the constraints they had to work to, all modelled with the use of building blocks. They were shown how these types of problems can be solved by linear programming which they may study in Further Mathematics.

The challenges of building a tunnel under Stonehenge further demonstrated their creative approach to problem solving and prompted discussions backed up by evidenced based calculations to support their arguments and ideas.  Their calculations and reasoning reflected the work undertaken by students studying Core Maths, in that they were critically analysing the information given to them before carrying out necessary and appropriate calculation. 

'The average rainfall per day for October 2019 was 0mm, correct if the modal average is used', or 'What does this graph show?' were typical examples of statements or questions on graphs that the students spent time critically analysing in the afternoon, along with addressing three statements posed in the morning.

We were delighted with the enthusiasm, creativity and problem-solving skills shown by the students, who spent the day doing lots of maths, meeting and working with different students and enjoying the mathematical challenges posed, all in a different working environment.

When asked why they would recommend this event to other students, responses included:

  • "Fun to meet new people and interesting"
  • "It was a fun day because I have learnt a lot and also spoken to different people/worked together"
  • "It made me realise how much maths is actually used"
  • "It gives you an insight on building a future"
  • "It showed me jobs I didn’t know existed"
  • "It’s a way of challenging yourself to try something new, it also lets you have a wider view of careers you use maths in."
  • "It helps you realise what important skills you really need for maths jobs"
  • "It was fun."

Feedback from the teachers involved was equally positive:

  • "All activities were so valuable, the scenarios and new uses for maths really broadened their view and the graphs activity was very enlightening."
  • "Awesome day!"

Similar, small scale activities for Year 9 are being planned for the spring and summer terms, along with larger events for Year 10, and Year 12, and a Maths Inspiration Show. Keep a look out on the AMSP events pages for details of enrichment events.

By Margaret Harding

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