Scientists in Schools

Cinderella coaches, pirates and ... Mathematics!

  • Cheryl Smith, St Joseph’s, Mundingburra, QLD
  • Kelly Stokes, Engineer, Townsville City Council

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In early 2010, Kelly established a Mathematicians in Schools partnership with Cheryl and her Year 2 class. “I like to make mathematics fun for these young students so they enjoy it and want to keep doing it,” said Kelly, an engineer and mathematics enthusiast. Cheryl loves to challenge her students’ thinking and so the partnership with Kelly was a great opportunity to bring the ‘real world’ of mathematics into the classroom to get students solving ‘real world’ problems.

Engineer Kelly helping students plan their coach
Making wheels for the coach

On her first visit, Kelly brought in things that help her do her job as an engineer. The students were excited by her presentation but particularly enjoyed trying on her hard hat, high visibility vest and using her calculator and tape measure.
Her presentation also generated many questions such as: What do you do in your job each day? What types of things do you build? How long does it take you to build things?

Kelly wanted the students to design and make an object, like a real engineer does. So she designed a fun task that would both excite and challenge the children. She asked the students to design and make a ‘Cinderella Coach’ as part of their Term 4 work on Fairy Tales. Cheryl and Kelly had a lively and productive session with the students as they designed, measured, constructed, trialled and reviewed their coaches. Angus, one of the Year 2 students said “I feel excited about Engineer Kelly coming to our class because I love, like, mechanics and building. I like the designing because you had to draw the design and all the features. We had to work out what height to put the wheels on our coach and we also had to do maths to work out how big the wheels needed to be.”

In addition to joining Cheryl’s Year 2 class this year for a number of maths lessons, Kelly was also involved in playing ‘Pirate Games’ during their Pirate Day celebrations in Term 3. These games involved the mathematics of cutlass throwing, tug-o-war and treasure map construction and interpretation.

Completed coaches ready for presentation
Engineer Kelly and Cheryl Smith