Although I’ve led a handful of maths trips over the years, I’ve never taken a whole year group out of school. All of the trips I’ve planned involved relatively small numbers of students. It can be hard to justify the cost and time involved in a cohort-wide maths trip. That’s not to say that enrichment isn’t important, but it may be more practical to bring maths enrichment into school (see my post about in-school speakers and workshops for details).
I recently visited Legoland Windsor for a demonstration of their Lego Robotics – Space Challenge workshop. I was absolutely blown away by how brilliant it was. This maths and programming workshop is aimed at Key Stage 2 and 3. It was really fun and I think most kids would come away from this workshop excited about coding. Legoland is expensive for families to visit so I thought it wouldn’t be a viable option for school trips, but I stand corrected. School trips are only £12.25 per head for secondary school children at peak time, plus £2.50 for a workshop and £3 for lunch, so you’re looking at under £20 a head plus travel (full price details here). The robotics workshop takes 45 minutes and students spend the rest of the day enjoying themselves at Legoland, which is one of the country’s top attractions.
2. Racecourse Days
Racecourse Days take place at 59 racecourses all over the country. Examples worksheets and schedules are available here. I’ve heard great things about these trips. Activities include visiting the Weighing Room, which is where jockeys prepare themselves before each race. Students find out about the relationship between weight and performance in racing and how the handicapping system works. In the ‘Photo Finish’ activity, students discuss distances, the condition of the going and other factors that may affect a horse’s performance. They also learn about the technology of the photo finish and winning distances, plus judge some close finishes for themselves. Sounds fascinating to me – and it’s all free! So the only costs involved are travel, lunch, insurance and school administrative fees.
3. Bletchley Park
Bletchley Park, near Milton Keynes, was Britain’s main decryption establishment during World War II. It’s a popular destination for school trips. It offers a variety of facilitated one hour workshops, suitable for Key Stages 3, 4 and 5, with specific focus on history,mathematics and computing. The cost is £10 per head. Information about secondary workshops is available here. The maximum capacity for students is 180 so if you come from a large school (mine has 240 in a year group) you’d have to split the trip over two days.
4. London Museums
There are loads of destinations for maths school trips in London. I have listed a few here:
The Bank of England Museum.
This is my personal favourite (I did the graduate training scheme at the Bank of England back in 2002). The museum’s one hour ‘Pounds and Pence’ talk is aimed at Key Stage 2 and 3 and encourages students to think about the value of money and prices and their spending and saving decisions. ‘Keeping on an even keel’ is aimed at Key Stage 4 and 5 – it explains what the Bank does toan even keel keep inflation low, maintain trust in its banknotes and keep the financial system stable. Admission and presentations are all free of charge. Note that these trips are only suitable for smallish groups (up to 50).
Royal Museums Greenwich (including the Royal Observatory, National Maritime Museum and the Queen’s House) are good destinations for maths school trips. We visited them during my PGCE course and I was particularly taken with the Queen’s House – I loved its wonderful Great Hall (a perfect cube).
Workshops at the Royal Museums Greenwich include ‘Maths and the Milky Way’ for Key Stage 3 and 4, in which students explore the scale and variety of planets in our Solar System and in other planetary systems in our Milky Way Galaxy using a range of mathematical techniques.
The British Museum
The British Musuem’s two hour teacher-led Maths Challenge looks like fun. Groups of students rotate through up to nine activities in different galleries, completing challenges which focus on developing students’ mathematical thinking. I particularly like the task in which students look at a colossal granite arm in the Egyptian sculpture gallery and attempt to determine the size of the statue that this arm came from. The maximum group size is 70.
The Mathematics Gallery at the Science Museum
The new maths gallery is due to open in December 2016 and will undoubtedly be an excellent destination for maths school trips. Similar locations further afield include the Museum of Mathematics in New York and the Mathematikum in Germany.
5. Maths Lectures
The most inspiring thing I’ve done since becoming a maths teacher was attend a day of Mathematics in Action lectures. I took 20 Year 12s along and it was brilliant. Maths Inspiration events are similar. This national programme of interactive maths lecture shows for 14-17 year olds features an awesome line-up of speakers such as Matt Parker and Hannah Fry.
The Royal Institution runs Masterclasses all over the country. These events typically take place on Saturday mornings, with schools sending a small group of their keenest Key Stage 3 mathematicians.
The best school trip I’ve ever been on was actually organised by my previous school’s Physics Department. I paid to go along. We chartered a plane, took off from Gatwick in the evening and flew over the Shetland Islands. I saw the Northern Lights (amazing!) and awe-inspiring constellations. Our plane circled for a while then flew home the same night. It was one of the most wonderful things I have ever experienced, demonstrating the power of a good school trip.
|The view from my window…|
Please add a comment below to let me know your school trip recommendations and experiences. Thanks!