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Maths in Motion
‘You get to put maths into practice.’
‘You get a chance to learn by doing.’
‘It’s better than book work.’
Year 9 students talking about why they like Maths in Motion
‘The Jaguar Cars Maths in Motion Challenge has now become well established in the calendars of many schools as a way of engaging children of all ages in an exciting and motivating mathematics based project. The software is suitable for all ages from 9 upwards. It is an ideal base for a primary school maths project, for a transition years project and is also suitable for use with KS4 students.’
Maths in Motion website
Since the ISSP launched this project in November 2006 six schools are using the software and have sent teachers to be trained on how to use it.
Maths in Motion is a computer program that allows students to design a virtual formula 1 racing car and then race it against other cars, on a simulation of a real life track. Schools have the option of entering students into a national competition.
Designing and racing a car typically takes three lessons. In the first lesson students have a paper copy of one of the race tracks and have to measure angles, distances and other properties of the track; these measurements will form the basis of their car tuning so it is important to be as accurate as possible. In the second session students tune their cars and have to think carefully about factors such as the amount of fuel, tyre choice, suspension set-up, driver temperament and, most importantly, the colour of the car! The final session is race day when students get to see the fruits of all their careful measurements and calculations. If they’ve got something wrong the car might not be fast enough, run out of fuel or, worst of all, crash!
Laura John, a Maths teacher at Worle, gave up some of her time to share some of her thoughts on Maths in Motion. Laura has been using the software with some of her groups and would recommend the software to other maths departments because it is good fun and uses a lot of maths; such as percentages, estimates, scale, fractions, making measurements and speed and time.
When asked if the software engages students, Laura replied yes. In the final year 10 session sixty students were on the edge of their seats cheering the cars on! One year 10 student went home and, off his own back, researched the track he would be racing on.
It would be very hard to show a causal link between Maths in Motion software and increased GCSE grades or progression rates to Maths A-level courses but Laura was certain that the software increased enthusiasm for Maths and in that sense was bound to make some sort of difference.