Development of Building the Olympics show for high-school pupils through Maths Inspiration charity

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bath
Department Name: Architecture and Civil Engineering


The two protagonists in this story are the Principle Investigator, Dr. Paul Shepherd and the charity Maths Inspiration. The driving force behind it is the coming of the Olympic Games to London in 2012.This falls under the Progress and Development Funding project type, as it builds on the hugely successful Maths of Sports Stadiums talk developed by Paul, and delivered to over 5000 school pupils over the last two years. This interactive, multimedia presentation takes the real-life high-profile building projects he has worked on as a context for discussing the crucial role mathematics plays in the engineering design of structures.Maths Inspiration is one of the largest maths enrichment programmes for teenagers in the UK. Their objective is to inspire the next generation of mathematicians, engineers and other mathematical and numerate professionals. In the academic year 2008/9 they are expecting an audience total of over 10,000. It's a chance for Year 11 and sixth former pupils to experience the UK's most inspiring maths speakers live, in big venues, presenting mathematics in the context of exciting, real-world situations. They prefer to call their events shows rather than lectures, because they are lively, professionally run and entertaining. The format is almost always three speakers giving interactive talks on a diverse range of topics. On most occasions there will be one pure mathematician, one statistician and one engineer in the line-up and there is always a lively Q&A session at the end of each show.The project will last for three years and can be described in two parts. The main part of the funding provides for the existing talk to be developed and updated. It will be renamed Building the Olympics and will use the London 2012 Olympic development as a context for highlighting the use of mathematics in the construction of large-scale building projects. It will build on successful aspects of the existing talk, and introduce Olympic specific material to capture the imagination of the audience and build on the strengths and popularity of the London 2012 event. The secondary part of the funding will then allow Paul to attend Public Engagement events around the country (mainly, but not limited to, Maths Inspiration shows) and deliver the presentation to a very large audience of mathematics students and teachers.


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Description Since this was a Public Engagement focused project, the outputs have impacted school children in their choice of career and their appreciation of Engineering as a profession.
First Year Of Impact 2009
Sector Construction,Education,Other
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

Description Building the Olympics Show 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Attended 20 large-scale maths-enrichment events where students experience the UK's most inspiring maths speakers live, in big venues, presenting mathematics in the context of exciting, real-world situations.

Mainly aimed at year 12 pupils to encourage them to choose STEM related subjects at University, but also involved years 13, 11 and some year 10s.

Regularly presented to audiences of over 1000 at a time, engaged with >13,000 school students and >200 school teachers over three years.

Talk involved anecdotes from own experience as a practising engineer, with videos, humour and a live demonstration involving a shaking table driven by the audience's claps which explained resonance by collapsing a large tower of wooden blocks.

Lots of positive feedback from teachers on the impact the shows had on their students in terms of engaging them with the subject material and helping with careers choices.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009,2010,2011,2012