Maths Week 2014 takes place from October 11th-19th. Maths week is celebrated all over Ireland, with over 200,000 participants last year. Already this year almost 50,000 participants have signed up on www.mathsweek.ie to take part in special maths activities and join in lots of different maths games and challenges. According to the website, Maths Week ‘promotes awareness, appreciation and understanding of maths through a huge variety of events and activities.’
Running alongside maths week is the very popular initiative ‘Developing Maths Eyes’, which started in Tallaght in 2011 and which has extended over the years into other communities. The project went international in 2013 and has now been replicated in many countries. Aimed at every member of the community, it was based on addressing the fact that traditional methods of teaching maths have resulted in a ‘maturing population’ who do not appreciate the maths around them in everyday life. Some children too, despite being taught in a more interactive way, often don’t make the link between the maths they learn in the classroom and the real world. Terry Maguire, who developed the idea, says,
“Everyone has maths eyes – they just need them to be opened.”
Our school self-evaluation this year focuses on maths and a large part of our work will be on helping children see maths around them and make connections between the maths they learn in school and maths in the real world. As a school we participate in Maths Week every year, and this year again the children will take part in activities that will help to ‘open maths eyes’. There are many activities that can be done at home too, and which might help to open the maths eyes of adults into the bargain! For younger children, why not have an ‘iwalk’, asking children to find as many regular shapes as they can, or spot all the different places and situations where numbers are used. What about organising a Maths Treasure Hunt (older children might enjoy thinking up clues) or Maths Trail? (some templates are available on www.haveyougotmathseyes.com).
What about some practical maths experiments? We are told that we waste 6 litres of water a minute from leaving a tap running while brushing teeth. Most young children have no conception of how much this is. Why not have them fill a container with 6 litres and have a look (it can then be used to water the plants!). What about maths in the supermarket? Children who don’t enjoy shopping but have to ‘tag along’ might enjoy a supermarket ‘maths checklist’. Some children might like to keep a maths diary for a week and report back on all the different situations they found which featured maths in some form. The maths week website, www.mathsweek.ie, has lots of ideas and suggestions such as,
- Have a Maths Puzzle Day at home
- Design a Maths Maze
- Explore the maths in art
- Code Breaking for the Young Secret Agent
- Become a Maths Magician
- Discover some ‘maths heroes’ from the past.
To make it more interesting, you can take a digital photo of any of your activities and upload it to the maths week website.
The ‘Maths Eyes’ initiative is not just for children, it’s for all learners, young and not so young. It helps us all to become more aware, to look at things in a new way, to make connections and links. One of the street workshops held in Tallaght last year during Maths Week helped people understand issues in relation to water conservation – a very timely activity!
If you would like more information on the Maths Eyes initiative, or just some motivation to get into maths action, check out the website
www.haveyougotmathseyes.com or join Maths Eyes on facebook.
There is a list of websites under the tab ‘Activities for Primary Schools’ on the maths week website.
One maths website that has proved very popular is www.mangahigh.com. This is a games based site which provides a wealth of challenges to all maths lovers. This site is recommended by Maths Week Ireland as a great way to get pupils to practise their maths, in particular their problem solving ability.
Another popular site is
This easy to navigate website has maths games that are linked to the different strands of the maths curriculum. Learning as it should be – through enjoyment!
Enjoy maths week!