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Maths Week: Exploring everyday life by the numbers

06 Dec 2020

Grace Wang  Head of Primary Maths What is your first reaction when someone mentions the word 'mathematics'? Does it evoke complex numerical symbols, calculations and proofs?

Huili pupils will surely give you a variety of answers, but mathematics is the key to understanding everything from music and art to cell division and automotive design. Mathematics can helps us to solve simple, everyday problems. It can also open our eyes the fundamental wonders of the universe. This why this year's Maths Week theme was 'Mathematics in All Works of Life'.

Exploring maths in everyday life

In this year's Maths Week, each grade had the opportunity to learn some specific real-world applications of mathematics.
Grade 1 pupils, for instance, became 'navigators' as they learned how to use orientation skills to help them find hidden treasures. 

In grade 2, the pupils assumed the role of graphic artists. Using graphs, they designed creative postcards. They also became teachers and developed challenging mathematical exercises for younger pupils. Meanwhile, in grade 3, our pupils became tour planners. Applying measurements of time along with computation skills like multiplication and division, they tailored cost-effective travel itineraries for make-believe customers.

Most people do not realise that notes on the music staff are simply fractions. Grade 4 pupils explored this in greater depth by creating their own musical compositions, working with various permutations and combinations of drumbeats. Maths are also integral to creating many of the games we play. This is why our grade 5 pupils explored the mathematical principles that go into developing games.

Computing technology has ensured that data will be a driving force of the economy in the years to come, so grade 6 pupils learned how to be data analysts. They interpreted and parsed complex sets of information and presented it in clear, easy-to-read charts and graphs. Grade 7 pupils explored motion graphics and created unique graphics based on the rules of rotation, folding and translation. They discovered the elegant beauty of numbers by combining basic shapes and turning them into eye-catching works of art.

We have a long history of brilliant mathematical thinkers. Our grade 8 pupils had the opportunity to choose the one they most admired and research them. They then explained their choices the the rest of their classmates.

Learning about careers in mathematics

In addition to our lessons, we were joined by four Huili parents whose careers are closely related to mathematics. They were generous with their time as they shared their experiences with our pupils.

Police officers cut a heroic figure for many children. Mr Wei, a Huili parent and a police officer, explained to the pupils the digital coding frequently used in our daily lives. Architect Mr Cheng described the concept of length unit s, explaining how the size of common items such as textbooks, paper and furniture is determined. Doctor Mr Shen explained how mathematics is applied in medicine and shared his experiences in epidemic prevention. Finally, Mr Xi, a CFO, talked to the pupils about how mathematics is so fundamental to the financial industry.

These engaging talks opened our pupils minds up to the world of maths-related career opportunities available to them. Moreover, pupils in higher grades were invited to be 'guest lecturers'. They designed a variety of activities for pupils in grades 2 and 3 pupils and shared their first-hand experience with younger pupils, leading them to discover the many mysteries of mathematics. For example, some designed toys and brought them to school for younger pupils to play with. Some peformed their own musical compositions and explained the relationship between fractions and music. Others designed hands-on activities for younger pupils to learn the four-colour theorem, motion graphics and data collection.

Practical and fun

Mathematics, our pupils learned, is not only practical. It can also be loads of fun. Pupils in Junior High, for instance, played several stimulating games such as Proof, Prime Climb, Gravity Four and Laiser Chess.

They competed across different grade levels in challenging mathematics tournaments. Our pupils also learned how maths is applied to pursuits as varied as computer hacking, running a restaurant, coaching a sports team, being a detective and much, much more.  

Brief as it was, mathematics week exemplified how we teach mathematics at Huili. It is not just a practicality, it opens our pupils to the wonders of how the universe is organised, and that can be truly inspiring.