A date with science and numeracy

18th November 2005 at 00:00
Towards the end of the last academic year, I organised a whole school celebration to mark the 100th anniversary of Albert Einstein's amazing special theory of relativity.

Working with our numeracy co-ordinator, we planned a day that incorporated a mix of science and numeracy investigations. Our aim was to encourage teamwork and school spirit, and give the children opportunities to solve problems through dialogue, while having fun.

To meet these aims, we organised pupils into 34 mixed-ability teams, including representatives from Years 3-6.

The day began on the field with staff, parents and past pupils assigned to teams to oversee the children's work. The first challenges had teams solving number puzzles, assembling tangram pictures (a Chinese geometrical puzzle of a square cut into seven pieces, which can be arranged to make various other shapes) and building the tallest tower using only spaghetti and Sellotape. On to this tower they had to attach a small flag decorated with their team name and mascot.

After break, the teams formed four groups and moved around a circus of activities. These included a giant Sudoku, a numeracy quiz, ICT puzzles, a challenge to cross an imaginary river on stepping stones carrying as much sand as possible, and another transporting water in home-made paper cups made from five sheets of A4 paper.

In the afternoon, the teams completed a science quiz and then competed to make a flag that would fly the highest or for the longest time, using only the materials they had been given. The children enthusiastically raced their finished kites across the field, cheered on by their teams.

We concluded the day celebrating the children's achievements. Everyone was given a certificate and the team with the best performance was given a prize. All this, while eating cake, drinking lemonade and sending lemonade-bottle rockets high up into the sky.

Children and staff had a very enjoyable day. There was a buzz of excitement around the school and a focus of responsibility given to our Year 6 pupils in their last few days of primary school. Children made new friends and staff worked with different colleagues. Seeing the children's responses on the day and having received their thank-you notes definitely made the hard work worthwhile.

Emma Kirk

Science co-ordinator, class teacher and leading skills practitioner, Wallace Fields Junior School, Surrey LEA

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