Maths + sports = winning formula for schoolchildren

The use of sports to help get children more interested in, and better at, maths is about to be pitched to a new level in Cork schools.

Written by local teachers for local teachers, the Maths in 50 Sports book will be available free to most primary and second-level schools in the city and county.

It gives an almost A to Z of different sporting codes, each accompanied by exercises of an intellectual nature. Starting with archery and ending with wrestling, chapters include dozens of sports that will feature in this summer’s Olympics in London — such as basketball, fencing, gymnastics, rowing, swimming, and weightlifting.

There are also many native sports such as road bowling, which is played in few counties outside Cork. The idea for the new book started out with just hurling and football over five years ago when a group of teachers, training at the Cork Education Support Centre (CESC), began seeing the potential benefits for pupils having difficulty at maths.

“As the early material was given to other schools, people started offering items on different sports and it took on a life of its own,” said CESC director James Mulcahy.

The book gives an outline of the rules of each sport, the equipment used, the scoring, and dimensions of playing areas. These are followed by a series of related maths questions, mostly aimed at the standard of older pupils in primary school and the early stages of second level.

“The focus of the new Project Maths syllabus at second level is all about applying maths to real life situations. So if a child isn’t very strong at maths but they can get an understanding through a sport they love, then this will be a great help,” Mr Mulcahy said.

Free copies of the book will be given to hundreds of schools whose staff undergo training with CESC thanks to the sponsorship of Bord Gáis Energy, whose employee, Cork senior footballer Daniel Goulding, was a welcome addition to the guestlist at the launch of the event.

The Government is focusing much of its teacher education resources over the next decade towards ways to improve how literacy and numeracy are taught.

“A lot of resources are coming from the Department of Education, which is a top-down approach. But this is coming from the bottom up, from schools and teachers themselves, and can now be shared with the wider education community,” Mr Mulcahy said.

The support of Bord Gáis Energy, whose chief executive John Mullins launched the book at CESC, will also help get CD copies of the book to schools for use with classroom computers.



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