Bid to beat the number phobia

21st January 2000 at 00:00
Teachers have contributed some of the best ideas for the Maths Year 2000 initiative. Sarah Cassidy reports.

BRITAIN IS to be bombarded with posters, festivals, shows and advertising campaigns to persuade parents and pupils that maths is important and cure the nation of its fear of numbers.

Celebrity endorsements and supermarket campaigns are set to carry on last year's promotion of the subject, but this time the billboards will be telling us why maths is not only fun but also vital for everyday life.

A new advertising campaign aims to show parents how to improve their children's mathematical ability through normal family activities. It was launched this week as part of Maths Year 2000.

The aim is to make parents realise that being "hopeless at maths" does matter and that whatever their level of skill they can still help their children.

The advertising extravaganza began on Wednesday evening in a primetime slot during Coronation Street. It features parents with their children using maths in everyday situations - buying videos, counting press-ups - as part of the maths year which is the follow-up to the National Year of Reading.

Celebrities such as theboy band 5ive, Radio 1 DJ Pete Tong, boxer Prince Naseem Hamed and TV vet Trude Mostue will target teenagers, in adverts to be screened later this year, describing how maths has been vital to their careers.

The year is to be officially launched on Tuesday with a maths show performed by Johnny Ball, the television presenter and father of Radio 1 DJ, Zoe. It is compered by the ubiquitous Carol Vorderman, originally of Countdown fame, and features Education and Employment Secretary David Blunkett.

A free booklet, It All Adds Up, has been linked to the adverts and will give parents examples of how shopping, weighing and travelling all need maths skills.

Many of the best ideas for the campaign have come from teachers, according to Barry Lewis, director of the project.

Pre-written maths assemblies have been made available to schools so they can feature topics and personalities to interest all pupils.

Maths will also be turned into music on the Maths Year 2000 website, with infinite numbers such as pi and e transformed into base eight - and translated into an octave of notes - and base five - the pentatonic scale - with each digit turned into a note.

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