Maths Scholars Celebratory Event - 21st September 2019

Peter Ransome’s Workshop

J. WiddowsonWhilst out running, I was thinking about a student I’ve been working with who could do much better at exams, if only she would attempt the questions she didn’t think she could do; the questions I knew she could answer.

Both my SCITT course and the maths scholarship have, in only two weeks, provided huge inspiration.  The SCITT course included a session on Nelson Mandela which reminded me of his speech ‘Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure’ and how we must overcome our fears and take risks to reach our highest potential.  This linked me back to Peter Ransome’s fantastic session on The Battle of Trafalgar and how Admiral Lord Viscount Nelson had taken a risk that had led to the battle being won.

Lord Nelson took his twenty-seven ships, against the thirty-three of France and Spain, and positioned them perpendicular to the French and Spanish fleet, in contrast to the usual parallel battle position.  This meant that whilst he took some risk on the approach, once in position the French and Spanish fleet could not attack his ships.  Lord Nelson’s ships were then able to unleash a devastating attack the front, bow, and rear, stern, of the opposing ships.

Peter Peter’s session could be further linked to encouraging students to take risks with their maths through use of the practical demonstration of a 16lb cannonball dropping through a plank of wood and discussion of the very real risks these collisions caused the men engaged in naval warfare at Trafalgar.  When a cannonball hit a boat it would send a shower of hundreds of splinters of wood, hitting any crew that got in the way.

Creating a real sense of the time and feelings around Trafalgar, Peter also produced a real cat o’nine tails whip and explained, both, how this was linked to maths and how it was linked to our use of the English language today.

It’s quite something how complimentary the maths scholarship and my SCITT course have been already.  The SCITT had also talked about the cat o’ nine tails whip’s link to English and have introduced me to the local museums service who were kind enough to offer to lend any of their 4.8million objects for use and handling in the classroom.  As soon as I am back at school on Monday my first action will be to find out if the museums service have a cat o’ nine tails and some cannonballs, and I’ll be getting my order in with them early.

By J. Widdowson