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“Can't do maths” is a cry often heard from individuals of all ages ranging from primary school years to adulthood. The emotion underlying the cry is commonly one of resignation rather than sorrow or of anger.

Since the 1960's a sequence of government reports and other professional initiatives have addressed this issue but it still persists.

What is the FunMaths Roadshow?

The FunMaths Roadshow is a collection of 350 mathematical activities suitable for use with school pupils, college students, and university undergraduates, overall between the ages of 5 and 20. The first 100 were developed to celebrate the centenary of the Liverpool Mathematical Society in 1999, and the further 250 have been developed subsequently.

Led by members of the Liverpool Mathematical Society, the development of the Roadshow is an ongoing attempt, in part, to provide a brief experience of some elements of what practicing mathematicians do in real-life. These include:

- problem solving, - insight development,
- ideas exploration, - solution achievement,
- discussion with colleagues, - outcome interpretation .

All this takes place in a non-confrontational and non-competitive setting encompassing both challenge and enjoyment.

We are grateful for the support of various organisations during the Roadshow's development, including COPUS and EPSRC under the Partnerships for Public Awareness Scheme.

How does it work?

The FunMaths Roadshow currently consists of fourteen 'boxes'. Each box contains 25 mathematical activities displayed on coloured laminated A3 baseboards, with associated equipment in zip wallets. The boxes are roughly graded as follows:

Box -1 Years 1 & 2   Box 6 Year 10
Box 0 Years 3 & 4   Box 7 Year 10/11
Box 1 Year 5   Box 8 Year 11/12
Box 2 Year 6   Box 9 Year 12
Box 3 Year 7   Box 10 Year 13
Box 4 Year 8   Box 11 Reality maths - Year 9 or above
Box 5 Year 9   Box 12 Reality maths - Year 9 or above

For most groups of participants just two of the boxes are used. The activities are set out on tables in a hall or large space, we do not use chairs as they can hinder movement or act as a trip hazard. All that a participant needs is a pen or pencil.

Participants move around the room tackling the activities in any order they choose. Each participant has a customised response sheet to be stamped or initialled by a helper when each activity is successfully completed. Helpers in a school-setting could be staff or older pupils from the school or, in a primary school, perhaps even pupils from a secondary into which the primary school feeds. In a typical session of 50 - 75 minutes, with pupils working in pairs, most pupils will complete a dozen or so activities.

Certainly enjoyment and challenge are the most appropriate words to characterise the Roadshow as a whole. Most schools are keen to issue certificates to all participants, which may then be placed in pupils' Progress File. Experience has shown that everyone succeeds, including children with special needs.

This page was last updated on 5 April, 2014.
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