Maths - Seeing the funny side

8th June 2012 at 01:00

What it's all about

Dara O'Briain gets about. Whether he is hosting Mock the Week, or working with Brian Cox on Stargazing, there's no risk of him being under-exposed. And thank God for that - I am a huge fan, writes Jonny Griffiths.

So it was with mixed feelings that I heard Dara was taking the lead in a popular maths show. But I gave the show School of Hard Sums on Dave a chance.

The format is intriguing, with Dara as the host-comedian-mathematician who has invited a friend-comedian-non-mathematician along for the ride. The equally ubiquitous Marcus de Sautoy plays the setter-professor-explainer, with two bright young university maths students in the background.

Dara tackles a problem with his trusted mathematics, while the guest comedian uses a mixture of brute force, common sense and trial and error. With three attempts at each problem, from Dara, his friend and the students, the chance of a solution is high. But the show does have a genuine and competitive feel to it.

Although the formula took a while to get going, by the end of the second programme I was convinced - this works.

So will your students or children learn anything? Dara again: "It's not like the kids are going to go, `Wow, what is that large bald fat man doing now that we should all do? He is the weathervane of cool!' I'm more interested in entertaining those who already enjoy the thing.' Well, thank you to Dave, Dara and the team - School of Hard Sums does exactly that.

Jonny Griffiths: jonny.griffiths@ntlworld.com

What else?

Make short division exciting with a code-breaking activity from lauramathswilson.

Pit pupils against each other with bluerose's maths challenge cards.

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