The Jaguar Cars Maths in Motion World Challenge is massive. Australian teacher Tanya Uren explains why
As a primary teacher who has always loved maths,I cannot count the times I have heard from students, or their parents, some of these classic lines: “I couldn’t do maths as a kid, so he/she won’t be able to do it either”; “You never use the stuff that is taught in maths, so why bother”; “I don’t have a maths brain and never will.”
Comments like these make me want to scream, shake sense into the person, or both. As expulsion from the teaching profession, and quite possibly criminal charges, are not preferred career pathways, I have striven to change this perception in schools and the wider community. And then I came across the Jaguar Cars Maths in Motion World Challenge.
We have enjoyed some success with the introduction of iPads across our school – Kingston Primary, in Western Australia – with various websites and the apps available: but still there was this disconnect between higher order maths skills and real life. Then, in August 2014, we were advised of an inaugural, international mathematics competition that would culminate in a world final, held in the UK, in June 2015: the Jaguar Cars Maths in Motion World Challenge.
First step was to form a maths extension group for for Years 5 and 6
After a quick analysis of the very user-friendly program, our principal, Alan Kidd, and myself decided to form a maths extension group, from our Years 5 and 6 students, to ‘play’ with the software and to see how it linked to our new Australian curriculum, and whether it could engage and extend our selected students.
Students were instantly hooked in to the program and enjoyed the challenges it set. We set aside a weekly time to run the program. The maths concepts covered pushed their understanding – real world applications of angles, percentages, scale drawings to name a few. True STEM concepts.
When we had to get a team together to try to get into the World Challenge race we needed extra sessions after school and even on a Sunday to select the students. Everyone willingly gave up their time to work on the program. Our top team was selected comprising Joshua Edwards, Kieran Belfield, Harsh Patel, Morgan Anderton and Sam Bateman (reserve).
None of us actually expected to get past the first Knockout Round in March 2015, as we were so new to this program. When we did, however, the excitement throughout the whole school and community was palpable. We had a local company sponsor Jaguar Cars Maths in Motion shirts for the whole group and we had other students asking how they could participate in the extension group – maths was the topic of the school and students were loving it!
Then it was time for the semi-final race, the room was packed with students and teachers cheering our car on. At the end of the race there was an enormous cheer as we realised we made it to the Grand Final and we were off to the UK! Then there was a bit of a stunned silence as it started to sink in what that meant. We had radio interviews, articles in local and state papers. I had students as young as seven asking how to be part of Maths in Motion and my reply was, “Keep trying hard at maths. Maths is awesome!”
'No doubt that that the Aussies had arrived!'
After a lot of hard work and planning we were off to the UK! Should I mention the cricket I wondered? After about 30 hours of travel time we made it to our hotel in Stratford-upon-Avon. After a day to explore the local area, and catch up on sleep, the final arrived. We set out in our school uniform and Australian paraphernalia – there could be no doubt that that the Aussies had arrived!
The welcome we received from the other teams was outstanding. So many came to congratulate us, say hello and thank us for making the effort to get there. The boys were very excited, almost thinking they were mini celebrities, and the atmosphere in the room was electric.
The teams were then taken into the computer room to get to work. Two hours later they were done and everyone was eagerly anticipating the results. During the running of the race children and adults were cheering on their teams.
There were groans of disappointment as a few cars crashed out. The last couple of laps were tense as a few schools were battling it out for a podium finish. Cheers of elation could be heard. For our first attempt the boys did our school proud by finishing 8th in the Primary School category – what a brilliant effort!
After the whole experience the positives are too numerous to mention, but here are a few:
• The raised profile and interest in maths in our school;
• Students realised that there is a world of opportunities out there for them – and how maths can help;
• The international contacts our school has made;
• The enjoyment and excitement that our team of boys experienced.
Would we do it again – you bet ya! Bring on 2016!
Tanya Uren is deputy principal and Maths in Motion Coordinator at Kingston Primary School
Bucks pupils pip 100,000 rivals at Jaguar Maths in Motion Challenge World Final
Gaydon, Warwickshire (20/6/2015) – Pupils from Butlers Court School, Beaconsfield, beat teams from 11 countries to win the 2015 Jaguar Maths in Motion Challenge for Schools World Final. Around 100,000 students participated in the programme over the past year and the winners beat them all by achieving the fastest race time with a virtual racing car they had set up by using a variety of maths and STEM-based skills.
Prior to winning this ‘face-to-face’ event, they had previously succeeded in getting through a series of online races in their school, a preliminary knockout round and a semi-final.
The final was held at the Heritage Motor Centre in Gaydon, Coventry, and saw 30 teams competing, in two different age ranges, for the World Champions title. Teams had just 90 minutes to make all of their calculations and racing decisions before the race itself started. A team from Aylesbury Grammar School, Aylesbury, won the secondary school World Champion trophy and they also came second in the overall race, just 12.51s behind Butlers Court after a 59-lap race around the circuit at Kyalami, South Africa.
Paul Sutton, deputy headteacher at Butlers Court, commented, ”The Jaguar Maths in Motion Challenge forms an integral part of a weekly maths lesson at Butlers Court as it covers so many of the skills that our students require. The students have worked so hard over the past year and have put so much personal effort and commitment into the competition. I am delighted that their hard work has been recognised.”
More than one million children have taken part over 15 years
The Jaguar Maths in Motion Challenge was established by Jaguar in 2000 and more than one million pupils have participated in the past 15 years. Youngsters aged 8 to 16 are tasked with setting up a virtual racing car to compete in a race, against other schools, around one of the world’s most famous race tracks.
The teams have to use all their mathematical expertise to accurately measure the length of the track, the angles of the bends and consider other factors such as fue, load, tyres and speeds as well as the technical set-up of the car and the weather forecast. This data is then entered into a cloud-based computer simulation and tested by way of a series of practice laps. With plenty of opportunity to fine-tune, all of the challengers eventually race against each other, hoping to make it on to the top step of the winner’s podium.
For the first time ever, the race was broadcast live, via YouTube, which meant that families and school communities worldwide could watch the race as it happened. Large numbers of people, in Australia and China particularly, logged on to experience the excitement of the race and the event.
Jaguar committed to 'importance and relevance of STEM'
Les Ratcliffe, head of community relations at Jaguar Land Rover, said, "Jaguar Land Rover, along with its Challenge partners, is committed to promoting the science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) agenda to help address the national shortage of engineers through our Inspiring Tomorrow's Engineers national education programme. The Challenge demonstrates the importance and relevance of STEM to the automotive industry and we hope it will encourage youngsters to consider taking up careers in engineering at Jaguar Land Rover in the future.”
Brian Richardson, challenge organiser, commented: “The Jaguar Maths in Motion Challenge attempts to show students that there are good reasons why we study maths at school – something that is often asked by students – and that you can have fun while doing it.
"It also shows that teamwork is an essential asset in the workplace – wherever you may live in the world! Today’s World Final teams have just proved the theory and we will continue to encourage them to go on to use the skills they have learned when they enter the workplace. Well done to all the school teams who have taken part in the Challenge this year and our particular thanks and congratulations have to go to Butlers Court School and Aylesbury Grammar School for being such worthy World Champions."
The Jaguar Maths in Motion Challenge is Jaguar Land Rover's largest school challenge and helps the company engage with huge numbers of young people, and teachers, through our extensive teacher training programme, each year. This year’s World Final saw schools from Australia, China, England and Scotland being represented. The 2016 Challenge is already open for entries.
For more information, visit www.mathschallenge.org.uk.
Brian Richardson, Jaguar Maths in Motion Challenge organiser
Tel: 01480 301201
Kate Birkenhead, Jaguar Land Rover CSR PR and Communications
Tel 07780 494 352