St Dominic’s Have Maths Eyes –Have You?

Have You Got ‘Maths Eyes’? Well the students of St Dominic’s Secondary School in Ballyfermot certainly do! Since September A ‘Maths Eyes’ Project was undertaken by students, parents and teachers from the Ballyfermot Dominican Campus schools featuring real life maths from our Ballyfermot Community. Our aim was to work together to develop our ‘Maths Eyes’. But what did that actually mean?

The idea of ‘Maths Eyes’ began with Dr Terry Maguire from I.T. Tallaght when she decided to develop a project to build confidence in maths in all members of the community. Everybody uses mathematics in their life, but they don’t usually call it mathematics. These ‘everyday’ maths often involve the use of complicated mathematical skills and techniques. People often underestimate their mathematical abilities because they often consider the maths they do as ‘common sense’ and the maths they can’t do as ‘mathematics’. By developing ‘Maths Eyes’ everyone can discover the mathematics that surround them and that they use in everyday life. In September Ciaran O’ Sullivan from IT Tallaght came to talk to us about opening our ‘Maths Eyes’ and we decided to do our own ‘Maths Eyes’ project here in Ballyfermot to develop our confidence in our own abilities around mathematics.

So what did we do then? Over two weeks 3rd class students from the primary schools and Transition Year students from the secondary school along with Parents, teachers and Home School Liaison Co-ordinators went out into the community – specifically Markievicz Park, the church, the school campus and the shops – to explore whether or not we could find evidence of maths in our community. With our digital cameras we took hundreds of pictures of the maths that were all around us, quickly realising that maths really are everywhere when you open your eyes.  We selected the best pictures and came up with captions and maths descriptions for each poster which we showcased for parents, students, teachers and representatives from schools and organisations in our wider Ballyfermot community, as well as from national organisations and I.T. Tallaght.

But of course now that we had opened our maths eyes it was really only the beginning. We have recently linked up with Marks and Spencer, Liffey Valley to bring our ‘Maths Eyes’ into the world of retail sales. Their management team worked with our Transition Year students both in school and in the store while our students, using real world maths, presented their ideas on staffing models, sales and marketing strategies and department allocations back to the store managers. Our next step is to do another Maths Eyes poster display based on the store and to hold a showcase and competition in store for the local and wider community. We are also excited because four of our posters have been shortlisted for the national Maths Eyes competition which will be launched by the Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn next Wednesday 6th March in the Department of Education and Skills. So fingers crossed – or is that fingers multiplied?!!!!!