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Maths Week Scotland takes in-demand subject outdoors for Highland school pupils as Science Skills Academy initiative gets creative

By Hector MacKenzie

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Pupils from Kirkhill Primary with their outdoor maths kit.
Pupils from Kirkhill Primary with their outdoor maths kit.

Maths Week Scotland and the Science Skills Academy (SSA) have jointly funded 174 outdoor maths kits for every primary school in the Highland Council area.

Maths Week runs until October 4 and schools are joining in the fun with a wide range

of activities.

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 range of activities highlights how maths is an everyday activity, and central to enjoyment of games, sport, art and design.

One of the key focus areas for Maths Week Scotland in 2020 is outdoor learning. In preparation for the week and the kits they would be supplying, the SSA ran six online professional development sessions in early September for 245 teachers and educators across the Highlands.

These teachers estimated that 4125 young people would be taking part in the

outdoor maths activities.

Edie, Sarah and Sophie from Kirkhill learn outdoors.
Edie, Sarah and Sophie from Kirkhill learn outdoors.

Katie Oldfield, Maths Week Scotland co-ordinator, said: “Outdoor activities are a great way to make education more exciting and these kits help teachers in their delivery. The SSA has done a great job of reaching all of the schools in the Highlands and we’re thrilled that even the most remote schools, such as those on Eigg, Rum and Muck, Raasay, Kinlochbervie and Durness, have all received kits too and can participate in

Maths Week Scotland.

“Maths has a role to play in so many daily activities and across so many different careers and sectors. It is fantastic that Maths Week Scotland allows teachers and children to think about the subject in different ways.”

Elspeth Mackenzie, a Primary 7 Teacher at Kirkhill Primary who is using the outdoor maths kits, said: “The kids loved doing their usual maths outdoors! It was great to see them working together grappling with concepts in a really practical way. Concepts that they have explored through textbooks came to life and they were challenged to see maths differently. The conversations that took place were an indicator that the children were challenging themselves and others.

"It's always good as a teacher to be reminded of how using the outdoors can open doors to learning for those who find the confines of a classroom more limiting.”

As well as a focus week of diverse and fun maths-related events and activity, there is a

supporting year-round programme for schools, families, adults and community groups. It is part of an ongoing drive to transform Scotland into a maths-positive nation through raising the profile of maths and encouraging enthusiasm for maths across the country. More details about the initiative can be found at mathsweek.scot.

The SSA is a partnership project led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise 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.

Set up in 2016, SSA 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.

Related: Dingwall Newton Room aims to help plug STEM skills gap

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