Maths Circles engage the full circumference of students

Posted on: 8th August, 2014

Category: News

Contributor: West Cork People

A Cork-based teaching initiative is doing what many educators are finding increasingly difficult; engaging young people in maths. Over 500 11 to 18 year-olds have participated in a year-long maths adventure aimed at nurturing students’ numerical development outside the classroom.

Maths Circles is a volunteer-led initiative organised by University College Cork’s School of Mathematical Sciences and the Tyndall National Institute. It develops young students’ maths skills in ways that are designed to excite and inspire a long-term engagement with these critical numerical life skills. The free initiative is made possible by a real community ethos, with volunteers coming from local Cork schools and businesses such as Boston Scientific, Trend Micro, McAfee and Claran Consultants, as well as academics, researchers and students from UCC and Tyndall.

Key numeracy and mathematical skills that are not always conducive to classroom learning, such as conceptual understanding, problem solving and adaptive reasoning are all fostered through stimulating, hands-on experimentation and discovery learning. These abilities are all becoming increasingly important in the workplace, their development at a young age provides mutual benefits to students, schools, communities and future employees.

The initiative has proven exceptionally popular with girls, with over 60 per cent of those taking part being female.

Roisin O’Mahoney, Anna Smetanina, Paulina Oramus, students at Sacred Heart Secondary School in Clonakilty, won the best mathematical sciences award at the Scifest competition in CIT. Colm Kiely, a teacher at Sacred Heart, runs a maths circle every two weeks for First Year’s with the help of his Transition Year students, who source and research interesting maths problems and histories.

“The Maths Circle benefits the students running it as much as those attending, giving them a greater appreciation of the depth of the subject beyond the school syllabus,” explains Colm. “It also allows for a relaxed and fun engagement with maths without fear of being wrong, and more value placed on problem solving techniques and logical thinking. Students of all levels attend and enjoy it, each having something to offer and experience.

“I find a greater confidence amongst the girls who attend, in the standard classroom, particularly in problem solving style questions or unfamiliar new material. It also helps the transition year girls who run it to develop their problem solving techniques, which they will need for Leaving Cert. Outside of school performance, I find it nice for the students to be able to explore a maths topic without the end goal of getting a final answer of marks in a test.”

Maths Circles is partially funded by the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Discover Programme

One of the co-founders, Dr David Goulding of Tyndall said, “It is incredible to see the level of achievement these young students have obtained…We couldn’t be prouder of the hard work of, not only, the students but also the many volunteers who give up their free time to help the initiative.”

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This Saturday the 10th March, will see some magically curious activity as local Bandon national schools compete in a Wizarding Harry Potter Quiz. The prize will be the beautiful Bandon Banshee Perpetual Cup.

As any Harry Potter enthusiast knows, Bandon has the unique honour of having a character named after the town. The Bandon Banshee, was referred to as the nemesis of Gilderoy Lockhart in the Chamber of Secrets. The book grossed €60 million in sales and was the 7th highest earning film of all time.

Locals, looking to enhance the town for young people, saw the quiz as an ideal way promote the connection. The universally absorbing book series brings young readers on a huge adventure of magic, adversity and triumph. It is also an exploration of loyalty and friendship, good and evil – so it is not only popular way to engage young people, it is a hugely positive connection.

Zoe Tennyson, one of the organisers said they were delighted with the response from schools who ran a qualifying quiz as part of World Book Day. On Saturday Bandon Town Hall will be transformed into Hogwarts Great Hall, with proceeds going Bandon Playground Group, and to cover costs of the event.

Bandon Books will be rewarding the winning team with vouchers to each of the five members. The Bandon Banshee, or Bean-sidhe na Bandaan Perpetual Cup will be hotly contested – but which school will the Banshee go to??

If you have any questions please call Marguerite McQuaid on 087 900 9494
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8th March, 2018  ·  

Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition 23 February 2018

The inaugural Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition will take place in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen this Friday 23rd February. As part of Engineers Week 2018, leaders and members of Ballineen Foróige Club have organised an exhibition which will showcase a diverse and exciting range of engineering projects that have been undertaken by members of the club over the last few weeks, with the aid of leaders and a number of local engineers.

With the aid of local pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, along with the support of STEAM Education, a UCC based company focused on promoting science, technology, engineering, arts, and maths subjects in primary schools, Ballineen Foróige has been engaging members and leaders in all things engineering over the last six weeks. From researching, designing, and prototyping a project based on local problems, to participating in various workshops on coding and careers in engineering, Ballineen Foróige have been extremely busy in preparation for the exhibition this coming Friday night.

On the night itself, Michael Loftus, Head of Engineering at CIT, Fintan Goold, Manager at Eli Lilly and All-Ireland Cork winning Footballer, along with Geraldine Coughlan of GCA Architects & Designers, a local business, will act as judges on the night, evaluating the different engineering projects and offering some advice to the members of the club. Also in attendance will be the CEO of Foróige Seán Campbell, along with a number of local councillors, TD’s and Senators.

Leading the team of Ballineen Foróige leaders organising the event, is Rebecca Dwyer, a bioprocess engineer at Eli Lilly. Rebecca recently became a leader in the club and says that Ballineen Foróige Young Engineer Exhibition 2018 “promises to be a fun, challenging and rewarding experience for all involved and we look forward to welcoming parents, relatives, friends and members of the public to the exhibition and film screening on the evening of Friday 23rd February.” Overall, there are twelve projects entered in the exhibition. One project, led by Cian Kennefick and Charlie Nolan, members of the starting out club, examines the possibility of installing speed ramps on the road near local primary school. Fourteen-year-old Charlie says he got involved in the project as it was something to do and it gets you thinking. Cian says the most exciting part of the project was the building of the prototypes.

Both Cian and Charlie, along with thirty other members of the club will display their projects this coming Friday 23 February in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen. Doors open at 8pm and the event runs until 10pm. All are welcome to attend, and admission is free. Catering, including tea and coffee, will be provided on the night.
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20th February, 2018  ·  

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17th February, 2018  ·  

Check out this new upbeat indie-folk track Edges, released today from Inni-K with a video by Myles O'Reilly. Inni-K will be performing at Levis’, Ballydehob on Saturday 24th February, with support from Sam Clague.
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