We all use maths everyday; we just don’t appreciate it and we rarely think twice about how important it is to have a good grasp of maths.

We work out how much things cost, if we can afford a treat as well as a sandwich (and the calories), if there’ be change from a tenner, how long it is until home time, the end of a meeting  or to our next holiday…

If we’re really good at maths we might also work out the probability of City winning their next game, how much Brexit may cost the country and our chance of winning the lottery!

Employers look for employees to have basic maths qualifications as standard. And that’s where BW3 come in; with a sprinkling of fun to boot.

What’s it about?

Numbers at Work is a morning of maths, delivered by BW3 member businesses, that provides students primarily aged 10 and 11 with the chance to enjoy and appreciate how maths is used in the workplace. It’s really engaging and takes them out of their usual classroom sessions so they can appreciate how what they are learning does apply to real life situations. The sessions are run in conjunction with Manchester Airport Group and their community liaison team along with volunteers from participating businesses.

In good company

Currently BW3 have five businesses delivering three Numbers at Work sessions to different local primary schools in the academic year. BW3 would like to expand this provision so if you think you and your business can get involved, please read on.

Here’s what some of the businesses that are / have been involved deliver

Microsoft: The children make a smoothie from a choice of fruity ingredients. They have to taste it and ask their team members to rate it. Then they have to plot the different ratios of ingredients into a pie chart and show diagrammatically the results of the taste test. This session helps students to see how using pie charts and graphs can be applied, creating a visual representation of their efforts.

Manchester Airport Group (MAG): Could you package an item so it doesn’t break or damage and send it to a far flung destination? Calculating along the way the weight and cost to send? Well that’s exactly what the students do is this session. The students also begin to understand distance as the destination they choose is made more real to them and how to cost effectively use materials.

Wythenshawe Community Housing Group (WCHG) – WOW Zone: Using a special application on an ipad the students create the footprint of a room from measurements given. They are then asked to plan out spatially how an effective room can be created. They have to think about practical issues such as how much area a piece of furniture will take up, how to optimise the space and what it may cost to build and furnish.

Laing O’RourkePupils are challenged to build the strongest, highest tower – using only paper and sellotape – in the most cost effective way.  Whose tower will hold the weight and whose will tumble down? But how many millions did they spend…?

City in the Community – Manchester City FC: Students learn the techniques of how to kick and dribble properly and how to calculate the probability of them scoring a goal. Many of the students tell us they want to become professional footballers, but little do they know that they’ll also need maths skills to able to achieve this!

One Advice Group: The Pay Day board game is about maths and money. It incorporates the familiarity students have with Monopoly and The Game of Life with a need to make positive financial choices and to understand the consequences of their decisions. On pay day students are given their salary and then as in life, immediately have to pay a range of bills and commitments. They often ask; what’s Council Tax? Is that really how much gas and electricity costs? As they progress around the board things happen that impact them financially. The winner is the one with the most money left at the end of the game. They can choose to save and/or lend and have to work out the interest, are rewarded for working overtime, for choosing no cost activities and need to calculate the right change from transactions as they add up and roll two dice. Without knowing it, they also learn how to make and manage a budget; and it’s all done without the usual associated groans.

Measuring the impact

The students are asked to note their learnings and to rate each maths session. When surveyed, 100% of the 170 pupils that engaged in Numbers at Work sessions 2017-18, acknowledged and said that they better understood the importance of maths as a direct result of the sessions.

Businesses and brands to work for

Other than to help teach students the importance of maths, participating business know they get to showcase their brands to the local talent and community. The students often go away from these session with a different understanding and appreciation of the businesses and brands they have interacted with. Businesses really do get to spy on the next generation of future talent!

Motivating for employees

By participating businesses also get the chance to motivate, reward and recognise their own employees. It’s a chance for them to be proud of their involvement and also of who they work for. After the sessions employees often speak about how they underestimate their own application of maths and of their talents in other areas.

When asked about why they participate One Advice Group said: “Colleagues wanted to use the financial expertise and support they offer to customers every day to deliver financial education and fun maths sessions to local young people. At the same time colleagues develop their own personal skills like team working, communication and problem solving. It’s a win win for all”. It’s also worth noting that the game itself was devised by employees from the Group as part of continuous professional development (CPD) time.

Want to get involved?

If you, your business or a group of people you work with would like to get involved please contact Zara Rudkin, BW3 Co-ordinator by email on zara@Bw3.org.uk. And if you would like some help to create a game or session, let her know as BW3 will also be able to help with that too. We can help create a Numbers at Work session that reflects your brand, product or service offered and demonstrates how employees use maths and problem solving in their everyday work life.

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