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Colourful outdoor maths kit and plastic container

Outdoor kits sent to Highland primary schools for Maths Week

Published: 18/09/2020

The Science Skills Academy (SSA) has put together the packs, each with 17 outdoor maths activities for children to enjoy as part of Maths Week Scotland in the context of the pandemic.

Staff from the Science Skills academy displaying new maths kits for kids

The Science Skills Academy (SSA) has put together the packs, each with 17 outdoor maths activities for children to enjoy as part of Maths Week Scotland in the context of the pandemic.

SSA is a partnership project led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) to help increase the number of young people with the science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills needed for future economic growth in the region.

Maths Week Scotland is part of the Scottish Government’s drive to encourage positive attitudes to numeracy and maths and is developed and delivered by National Museums Scotland.

The kits contain a range of numeracy, problem-solving and data-handling games including ‘Get your Bearings’ – a game where pupils measure angles and distance to plot a course around obstacles.

‘Make a Bolt for it’ gets children to gather data about their stride and height, using stopwatches to test their pace. There is also a ‘Maths Trail’ and ‘Scavenger Hunt’ as well as ideas for reinventing traditional games such as hopscotch and ladders to help with numeracy.

With guidance set by the Scottish Government for schools to maximise the use of outdoor spaces, the activities allow maths to be taken to the playground while making it fun and active and at the same time, boosting numeracy and improving wellbeing.

April Conroy, STEM engagement manager at SSA: “This year, with the ongoing challenges, many activities are focused on outdoor engagement. We wanted to give teachers a resource they could grab and go. The set of practical and fun tasks include everything from tape measures to stopwatches.

“Outdoor spaces provide all sorts of opportunities for real-world problem solving and practical maths. We hope pupils will see the relevance of maths learning and skills to their lives, now and in the future.”

The resources will arrive in schools this week, packed full of items for stimulating activities to engage young people during Maths Week Scotland, which is this year held between 28 September and 2 October. 

The maths kits are joint funded by SSA and Maths Week Scotland.

Katie Oldfield, co-ordinator at Maths Week Scotland, said: “We want people to be enthusiastic, confident and engaged in numeracy and mathematics.

“Maths Week Scotland provides opportunities across Scotland to engage with maths in new ways. We have enjoyed working with the SSA to bring these kits to Highland Schools for their use during Maths Week and beyond.”

April Conroy, Science Skills Academy continued: “Maths is at the heart of so many STEM careers and our mission is to help inspire more young people to become interested in these subjects.

The SSA was set up in 2016 to help increase the number of young people with the STEM skills needed for future economic growth in the region.

The project received £3m from the Scottish Government as part of the £315m Inverness and Highlands City Region Deal, which is funded by the Scottish and UK Governments and regional partners.

The SSA has also been leading on a project to create Newton Rooms in the Highlands to encourage more young people to study STEM subjects. The Norwegian style learning centres have already opened in Fort William and Thurso and the next one is due to open soon in Dingwall. Once the fitting-out of the Newton-Room is ready, schools from Ross and Cromarty will be welcomed as soon as COVID-19 restrictions allow.

Although initially focused on the Highland region, due to City-Region Deal funding, the SSA hopes to expand its activity across all areas in the Highlands and Islands.

SSA brings together key organisations including HIE, Highland Council, the University of the Highlands and Islands, Skills Development Scotland, High Life Highland and NHS Highland, all working together to demonstrate this model of STEM delivery in a large rural area. 

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