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Everyday Maths in everyday life

Attendees at the TF2015 Everyday Maths workshop

Presentation at the TF2015 Everyday Maths workshop

3 February 2016

University of Bristol’s Dr Jo Rose and Dr Tim Jay, from Sheffield Hallam University, ran an Everyday Maths workshop as part of the 2015 Thinking Futures festival. Held last November, the workshop launched new resources to help promote mathematical family learning.

How can parents and people working with young children find maths in the everyday? Jo and Tim’s Everyday Maths project seeks to support people to do just that, with free videos and resources developed as part of an ESRC Impact Accelerator Award.

Aimed at adults working with nursery and primary school children, the resources set out a new way of supporting their maths learning. The approach treats parents as experts, starting with family activity and developing ways of exploring maths through that activity. Teachers, academics, parents and local authority staff are all using the ideas; the website has had over 2,500 unique visitors, with the videos downloaded 105 times, and the toolkit 149 times.

The new resources were launched as part of the 2015 Thinking Futures festival, which celebrated research in the social sciences and law. Attendees talked about their experiences with the project and discussed why they thought it was important.

Nearly fifty people attended, with a second workshop held in Sheffield. The researchers have made connections with other teachers and local authority staff, opening up further avenues to share the Everyday Maths ideas and continue to develop impact. They are also looking into further funding avenues to continue to develop the resources for different audiences and explore the ways that adults renegotiate their relationship with learning.

As Jo said, ‘We are working with a snowball effect; the grant enabled us to develop good resources in collaboration with teachers, and the opportunity to disseminate them in a range of ways, and people who hear about our work are sharing it with their colleagues and peers.’

Since Thinking Futures, there has been further interest in using the resources from local schools, with the researchers invited to present at Bristol local authority’s primary maths conference in June, and at other local schools.

One attendee said it was ‘a reminder to think about maths in everyday life’, while another commented that the event was ‘well-paced, relaxed, informative’.

Jo said: “Public engagement is an exciting and rewarding part of research - working out how best to communicate the ideas from our research to stakeholders, in ways that will (hopefully) help them change their lives for the better. The Everyday Maths project was developed with parents, for parents: however, the process of understanding what were the most important aspects of the project, so we could develop clear and simple messages for schools and parents, was not easy!

“Working with the Public Engagement team was great because it freed us up to focus on developing those messages. They supported us to develop ideas for potential stakeholder groups, by sharing thoughts about how to engage with people, and the logistics and publicity for the event - this meant the event was really well-attended with an enthusiastic audience, many of whom will be using the Everyday Maths ideas in their everyday lives.” 

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