Software in action
Another approach is to do the preliminary discussions and calculations in class, and move to the software simulation in an out-of-class session.
"I've used it with all levels of achievers," says Tracey Armstrong, a maths teacher at Conyers School in Stockton-on-Tees. "It makes maths real for them. We do it towards the end of term and it puts into action what they've done through the year."
Jeff Edge, head of maths at Robertsbridge Community College in East Sussex, uses it in maths lessons. "We can talk ourselves into a corner about how to get through schemes of work," he says.
A great attraction of the software is that children quickly learn to use it without help, which is why it's often done as a club activity after school.
However it's done, Cars - Maths in Motion exercises just about every maths skill you can imagine - the Cambridgeshire Software House website provides links for the English and Scottish curricula; the competitive challenge adds a significant motivating dimension. What's needed to make it go is a teacher who understands the software and can see how it will sit within the subject - and has the imagination to let children fly with it.