Maths Week will be sum-thing else

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COLERAINE students are preparing to take part in Maths Week Ireland, an annual event aimed at promoting maths which features music, magic shows, card tricks, teasers and challenges.

Maths Week Ireland kicks off in Coleraine on Monday, October 15 with an interactive Maths Workshop for primary schools and secondary schools.

Combining geometry, card tricks and illusion it is hosted by one of the Maths Week Ireland partners, the University of Ulster at the Coleraine campus.

Think you can’t do maths? Local teacher Áine Kearney a Curriculum Manager for Essential Skills at Northern Regional College, has some innovative answers. She uses celebrity lifestyles, football league tables and holiday planning to gain the confidence of students and engage them with maths.

“While I’m a newcomer to Maths Week Ireland I am delighted to find this project which encourages everyone to understand that maths is part of everyday life. For some people it’s like a foreign language and the challenge is to find ways to make it easier to understand maths concepts by finding examples from everyday life.

Áine qualified with a Degree in Business Studies and Computing and has been teaching at NRC for seven years.

“I began my career as an administrator at NRC and when working in Essential Skills I was encouraged by Head of Essential Skills Kathleen Mullan to retrain and take a PGCE. Seven years later I still enjoy seeing people engage and succeed with Maths.”

She teaches young joiners, chefs, childcare assistants who are taking Essential Skills alongside their vocational programme. “While they may grumble about taking English or Maths I explain that to be shortlisted for any job especially in today’s competitive economic climate you must have GCSE at grade C or above or an equivalent. My advice is to get is sorted now.”

She also teaches adults at night school who have chosen to come back to education as they know essential skills are a vital part of the route to employment.

“The challenge is to find an every- day interest as a gateway to learning maths. The Football Premiere League tables with points accumulated and goals scored are ideal for football fans, as they provide lively conversation and perfect opportunities to study averages. I’m from a sports mad family and play hockey and football so I’m right at home with the football stats!

“Planning a holiday is a great project with adult students as it combines maths and IT in researching flights and hotels, calculating spending money, converting currencies and comparing temperatures at different times of the year.

The University of Ulster are holding three events including the Coleraine campus interactive Maths Workshops with Colm Mulcahy on Monday, October 15.

Dr Clare Ryan Access Officer Access and Educational Partnerships University of Ulster said: “The University of Ulster has an extensive outreach programme with a variety of STEM activities included. We are delighted to host Maths Week Ireland again this year and are excited to include the celebrations as part of our Engaging Young Minds primary school initiative for the 2012/13 academic year.

“We are hoping to host almost 2000 pupils across all three campus venues this year.”