On Saturday 5th November, our scholarship year kicked off with the Stretching Maths event at Aston University in Birmingham. I arrived at the conference centre and was immediately impressed by the venue. It seemed to cater for every need you could think of. I was shown to the lounge where there was tea and coffee available and I was reunited with my fellow scholars. It’s always nice to catch up with other trainee teachers and share our experiences because you can guarantee any struggles you may have had; someone else will have had too.

We were shown to our room and introduced to Dr Nira Chamberlain, who would be taking our first session of the day. Nira was charismatic and entertaining as he introduced himself and talked passionately about his work on mathematical modelling. We were set an apprentice style task in groups, which involved using one of Nira’s models to evaluate Aston Villa’s chances of remaining in the premier league after the first half of the 2015/16 season. We then used this to prepare a presentation for Aston Villa’s “manager” (which was just Nira doing a terrible accent), giving him advice on what to do next.

The task was challenging and required more thought than first anticipated so time flew by. During the presentations, Nira didn’t hold back, particularly with my group, and we only made it to the second slide before our ideas were dismissed and we were told to sit back down. We would have to wait until after lunch to find out who was the winner and to be “hired”.

We were spoiled at lunch time with a 3-course buffet which was more like 4 course for me as you could go back as many times as you like! After lunch the results were revealed, and, to be fair, I don’t think there was ever any contest. One group clearly out shone the rest and sadly it was not meant to be for my group. Nira then passed the baton on to Anne who showed us some activities that will come in handy in our own classrooms. This included making a tetrahedron from an envelope and a cube from train tickets. Anne was engaging as always and dropped in so many helpful hints for own teaching.

I had a wonderful time in Birmingham with wonderful people. I now know more than ever about mathematical modelling and have many ideas for my own teaching. The next event in February can’t come soon enough!

*- Jennifer Holmes*

**For More Information about maths scholarship click here**