I am proud that partners such as the University of Cambridge’s Millennium Mathematics Project are delivering on our vision to use the power of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games to boost participation in education."
By what length would Usain Bolt beat you if you raced him in the 200m? Are the long jump or shot put world records more likely to be broken in some Olympic host cities than others? Does the host nation for the Games have an advantage when it comes to winning medals? How does the geometry of the Velodrome contribute to speed?
Children around the country are exploring the answers to these questions by taking part in an inspiring programme highlighting the hidden maths behind the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The Maths and Sport: Countdown to the Games programme, which has been awarded the Inspire Mark, the badge of the London 2012 Inspire programme, forms part of the education legacy of the London Games.
It has been devised by the University of Cambridge’s award-winning Millennium Mathematics Project and features in the Practical Learning strand of Get Set +, the London 2012 education programme.
The free Maths and Sport website hosts a wide range of activities designed to give students in primary and secondary schools the chance to engage with maths in exciting real contexts.
The resources explore how maths plays a part in every aspect of the Games, from the sports themselves to the architecture of the Olympic venues.
For primary school children, activities range from using multiplication and fractions to work out how much performance in the long jump and high jump improves after training, to practical activities using schools’ sports equipment - basketballs, hockey balls, tennis balls – to help learn about the properties of circles and develop mathematical reasoning skills.
Sample activities for secondary students include helping to design a heptathlete’s training schedule, exploring the best ways for coaches and competitors to present sports data through diagrams and graphs, and investigating the mechanics involved in the pole vault.
Older students can work out what the probability is that an athlete who fails a drug test is actually innocent.
Challenges exploring how maths underlies Olympic architecture include designing the tiered seating for a sports stadium and working out the staggered starting positions for the 400m running track, where students put the geometry they learn in the classroom to practical use.