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Treasure hunt boosts Credits

THE PRINCIPAL teacher of maths at St Mungo's Academy in Glasgow has a dream for his S4 pupils: to see a marked rise in the number of Credit passes.

The department normally sees 20-26 Credit passes annually, but Denis McFadden is aiming for 40 this year.

To achieve this, he has secured pound;3,200 of lottery funding, plus the unpaid time, support and dedication of seven members of staff, to arrange a Maths Credit camp.

Forty pupils attended the Broomlee Centre in West Linton, in the Borders, for a weekend filled with maths activities, group work, challenges, treasure hunts, problem-solving games and a quiz, as well as outdoor sport and karaoke, to build confidence.

"We've been working on these kids for the past 18 months," says Mr McFadden.

"We've been spending a lot of time trying to build their self-confidence, telling them they can achieve; getting them to believe they can do it."

The treasure hunt involved pupils in pairs solving problems with mental arithmetic, and in groups tackling calculus past-paper questions. One question was given out at a time, and the entire group had to understand how to solve it before moving on to the next question.

Pupils were given marking schemes for the SQA exams, to see where marks were allocated. Divided into two groups, they then had to present a five-minute lesson on a maths topic.

Other challenges involved building a structure from straws and tape to support an egg and using paper and a stapler to build a support to take an adult's weight.

Pupils rotated around challenges in groups. Each group had to construct a mind map around a prelim revision topic such as trigonometry, detailing all the thought processes involved in arriving at the solution. They also constructed a study plan, timetabling their social commitments into a grid, then building study time around it.

l aspects of the Credit maths curriculum were tackled - without a textbook in sight.

"The kids haven't stopped talking about it," says Mr McFadden.

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