Whodunnit plus games equals fun

8th July 2005 at 01:00
Whodunnit games and three-dimensional noughts-and-crosses have been helping kids to get excited about learning maths, and teachers excited about teaching it.

The Mathcymru outreach project is made up of a suite of interactive games and puzzles which is transported to schools around Wales in the back of a transit van.

So far it has visited hundreds of schools, where children aged between eight and 13 benefit from the hands-on units.

These include dice, three-dimensional noughts-and-crosses and whodunnit games. Others deal with subjects such as solving money problems.

Mathcymru is part of a bigger project based at Techniquest science museum, in Cardiff Bay. It has been funded by the Assembly government for the past three years to help promote numeracy in schools.

Gareth Smith, Mathcymru co-ordinator, said the organisation was currently aiming to reach every school across Anglesey and Gwynedd.

"The aim is to bring the spark back into learning maths," he said. "By instilling more of an interest in the subject we think children will be more inspired to learn about it.

"Everywhere we have been so far we've had a great response. We're now hoping to train teachers across north Wales in how to use the units, so they can go and teach others."

A recent inspection by Estyn, the Welsh inspectorate, hailed Mathcymru as a worthwhile project that could easily be developed to secure greater participation and long-term impact across Wales.

Estyn says it is too soon to provide evidence that standards in maths have improved as a result of the project. But it had "stimulated almost all pupils to the extent that they made significant gains in their knowledge of mathematics".

Inspectors also said that teachers gain a fresh perspective and useful ideas.

Around 90 seven to 11-year-olds at Parc Lewis primary, in Pontypridd, have benefited from two visits from the outreach team.

Elaine Williams, Parc Lewis head, said: "It's really practical and hands-on. And quite thought-provoking for the teachers, too.

"We've been to Techniquest several times and Mathcymru is really inspiring for the children - they've even wanted to do proper maths lessons afterwards."

The Mathcymru outreach team has also been involved in helping children with the transition from primary to secondary school, as well as visiting projects taking place during the summer holidays.

Every year it takes part in the annual mathematics week, and next month it will be promoting its puzzles at the national eisteddfod, in Bangor.

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