Maths - Watching numbers

16th September 2011 at 01:00

Maths outside of the classroom

Too often, pupils consider maths to be one of those subjects offering little relevance in the real world - or at least not the one permeated by celebrity culture and reality TV. To be fair, it is doubtful that I'm a Celebrity Mathematician, Get Me Out of Here! was a hotly tipped newcomer in this year's programming meetings over at ITV. But maths has a bigger role in film and TV than your pupils might think, and it could be worth introducing them to a few examples, which may in turn benefit your lessons. They may not be shouting: "Wow, maths really is cool!" by the end of your crusade into pop culture, but they will certainly have had reason to think about the subject (and maybe even enjoy it) in ways they did not expect.

Maths in film

21 (12A), a fact-based film starring Kevin Spacey, is about six Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) students who become experts in card counting and win millions of dollars in Las Vegas casinos. Japanese film Hakase No Aishita Sushiki (The Professor and his Beloved Equation) (PG) is the story of a maths professor suffering from brain damage who shares his love of equations with those closest to him.

Maths on TV

There are several TV shows heavily linked to maths. The BBC's The Code, a three-part series about maths in the world around us, is presented by Professor Marcus du Sautoy. And ITV's Numb3rs, a drama series in which the FBI uses a mathematical genius to help solve crime, is often based on real events.

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