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Maths masterclasses ring in a fun time

31 March 2000


The bells, the bells . . . you could be forgiven for wondering what the connection between hand-held brass bells and learning maths is, but Year 8 pupils attending the University of Teesside’s Maths Masterclasses the connection is as clear as a, well, bell.

The schoolchildren, aged 12-13 years, from secondary schools around the region, are attending three-hour Saturday morning masterclasses, which take a fun and active look at the world of maths and its applications. Organised by a team led by Dr Patricia Egerton, Subject Group Leader for Maths at the University’s School of Computing & Mathematics, the series, which includes sessions entitled Magic Squares, The Day the School Burnt Down and The Maths of Bell Ringing, attracts pupils from the four local authorities and non-LEA schools in the region.

Dr Egerton said: "The Masterclasses are very popular and well regarded by local schools. They’re a great motivating and exciting opportunity for schoolchildren to expand and extend their everyday learning about maths. This year we’re delighted to be seen supporting the government’s Maths Year 2000 initiative."

Joyce Brown, a Maths teacher from Durham Johnston Secondary School at Crossgate Moor, Durham delivered The Maths of Bell Ringing session. She said that using everyday objects, such as brass hand bells, is a fun, innovative and tuneful way to demonstrate how to apply and think about mathematical formulas. The children learnt that there are 720 permutations, ie, sound combinations with six bells which would take half an hour to ring, but to ring all the changes on 12 bells it would take nearly 38 years!