Education Insights | Discovering Maths All Around Us

Maths is everywhere you look. The world would not move if it wasn’t for mathematics. It is a way of thinking, solving problems, explaining arguments and perhaps most importantly, it is nature’s building blocks. Maths can be found everywhere: in the calculations of light and gravity, in the patterns of flower petals, the Fibonacci sequence, in the movement of rivers and oceans and throughout the human body’s systems and functions.

At Wellington College International Hangzhou, we believe it is crucial to foster a love of maths in our pupils and develop a deep understanding of how it is intertwined with our everyday lives. Through the application of mathematics across IPC (International Primary Curriculum), English and science lessons, our pupils discover how maths has developed over time and contributes to our economy, society and culture. Studying mathematics can stimulate curiosity, foster creativity and equip children with the skills they need in life beyond school.

The study of mathematics requires a growth mindset (Carol Dweck) of persistence, courage to take risks, and the determination to succeed:

Dweck, C. (2007)

At the core of our maths curriculum at Wellington College International Hangzhou is the belief that everyone can achieve in mathematics. Our school values facilitate the development of a growth mindset as courage, respect, integrity, kindness and responsibility are embedded in school life and evident in our approach when teaching and learning maths.

This year’s maths week theme – ‘Maths is Everywhere‘ – provided an invaluable opportunity to discover maths beyond the curriculum and explore how often we use maths both in and beyond the different subjects we study in school. It also allowed us, as teachers, to highlight the importance of a growth mindset in our pupils.

For maths week, teachers from all subjects worked together to develop educational, enquiry-based workshops for our pupils to take part in which asked them to see maths in a different light. In PE, our pupils explored the use of time, estimating how long it would take to cover set distances. A little bit of magic took place during our performing arts lessons with Mr. Perkinton, who taught our children how maths appears in magic tricks and dazzled them with maths-related tricks based on probability, statistics and strategy.

Another exciting workshop on offer was maths in dance. Mr. Bane from Year 6 highlighted how dance uses a wide range of mathematical concepts. In Years 5 and 6, they focused on how fractions and decimals can be used to influence the patterns and timings used in a dance sequence. Years 1 and 2 considered the use of shapes and patterns present in dance, applying their knowledge of symmetry to develop a dance routine. Many of our children were surprised to learn how maths influenced dancing in such powerful ways.

Computer games and animations are seen every day on the internet or on our favourite TV channels. I led a coding workshop which focused on creating animations similar to the ones our children see and enjoy each day. Introducing our children to the process of coding through programs such as ‘Scratch’ can develop the applications of spatial awareness, positional direction, coordinates and the use of angles beyond school life. Even the simplest versions of coding involve computational thinking, taking logical steps, applying trial and error, and calculating timed interactions between characters included in their animation. All these skills are applicable both in maths lessons and in everyday life.

We were also incredibly fortunate to have two Wellington parents speak to our children about how they use maths beyond school. Dr. Di Kang described how she uses maths every day in her job as a statistics lecturer collecting data for research. Our second visiting parent, Mr. Rick, described how he uses maths in his job working in a company that makes power tools. He discussed how Pythagoras’s ancient theory is still regularly applied even now, thousands of years after the idea was initially discovered, and showed us this by displaying one of the tools his company makes!

On our final day, we shared what we had discovered and the activities we had taken part in with visiting parents, explaining how we had used mathematical concepts in activities beyond the classroom.

It has been a delight to see how our pupils flourished in each area, further developing their enquiry-based practice, applying the Wellington values, taking courageous risks in their learning and cultivating their growth mindsets.