Inspiring pupils to think more deeply about science…RI Masterclasses

The Royal Institution’s vision is a world where everyone is inspired to think more deeply about science and its place in our lives. We were delighted therefore to once again host the RI Primary Maths Masterclasses, a series of six hands-on interactive workshops on a range of inspirational topics, with the aim of motivating and enthusing Year 5 pupils by introducing mathematics from beyond the curriculum. Trained by professors from the RI, our Sixth Form students delivered four of the workshops, each with a different theme.

We very much enjoyed sharing this memorable experience with Year 5 students from the local community as part of our outreach programme: from Holy Trinity CE Primary School, Priestmead Primary School,  Pinner Wood School, Greenfields Primary School and Ruislip Gardens Primary School to work alongside pupils from our own Prep School. The children were nominated by their teachers for showing that spark of curiosity, for being the ones most likely to ask intriguing questions and to show determination to pursue a problem to its solution.

The masterclasses enable our Sixth Formers to be trained by RI professors as they take on a meaningful and enjoyable project, share some mathematics they find intriguing with younger children and gain valuable presentation experience. This worthwhile enrichment activity also provides them with the rigorous understanding that is necessary when teaching mathematics. Similarly, Year 5 pupils value learning from and working with role models they can readily relate to. In addition, they experience maths from beyond the normal curriculum, seeing beautiful and useful mathematics in the real world. They are inspired to realise that they can continue to experience deep and challenging mathematics and can work as mathematicians.

In the penultimate session the girls combined, colour, water, fractions and ratios. They used their knowledge of fractions and ratios to show how the colour of various solutions changed from red to purple to blue. The theme of the final masterclass focused on Islamic geometric patterns which have developed over the centuries. The geometric designs created were built on combinations of repeated circles to form intricate and complex patterns, including a wide variety of tessellations.

The girls formed wonderful friendships and shared some magical learning moments together. Our Sixth Form students, who planned and led the masterclasses, also shared their positive experiences:

The RI Masterclasses enabled us to learn how to interact with the younger years and how to maintain their interest. As Sixth Formers, we formed groups and each planned sessions that we felt would have interested us when we were younger. Sessions ranged from teaching Pi to coloured fractions. We taught our sessions using fun, interactive activities that challenged them further than the curriculum. We improved our confidence and also learnt how to plan a session successfully. We would like to thank Mrs Hurley, Mr Mani and Ms Bunce for organising these sessions for us to lead.

Abirame, Achuthaa and Tasniem