Exeter masterclass presentations

Helen Lidbury tells us how students in Exeter have given presentations on their masterclass topics as part of their final masterclass, the benefits, and tips on implementing this in your own series.

  • Students giving maths presentations

    Students in Exeter giving presentations on their masterclass topics

    Credit: Royal Institution

Written by Helen Lidbury, University of Exeter

The University of Exeter hosts an annual Maths Masterclass series in the spring term for Year 9 students. In recent years, highlights of the Saturday morning workshops have included Games Mathematicians Play, Juggling: Theory and Practice, Excel in your Mathematics, From Flowers to Fine Art; the story of a remarkable number and How Round is Your Circle?

In an exciting twist to last year's series, the masterclass students hosted an end of series Presentation Reception for their families and friends to showcase the mathematics they had discovered during the series. Students worked in small groups, each preparing a 5 minute presentation on one of the topics covered during the series.

Early in the series, University of Exeter Student Ambassadors delivered a short Presentation Skills workshop to give the students tips and support. Styles and approaches varied with students using PowerPoint, chalk boards, desktop visualisers, props, film and photography and overhead projectors to deliver their presentations. 

Key outcomes included:

  • Students developed presentation skills and team working skills.
  • Students had a goal to work towards during the series. 
  • Students learnt the difference between understanding a topic, and knowing it well enough to be able to explain it to others, this lead to the grasp of each topic being higher. 
  • The Presentation Reception (which included refreshments) provided a celebratory finish to the series, and friends and families learnt about what the students had been doing for the previous 8 Saturday mornings!

Key considerations/support required:

  • Resources required are minimal; one group delivered an excellent presentation using only a chalk board. Access to computers, digital cameras and other equipment is a bonus and gave the presentations some variety.
  • During the series, a Student Ambassador worked with the students responsible for each presentation to ensure that photographs were taken, resources gathered and a plan for their presentation was made whilst the content was fresh in their minds. 
  • We allowed the second half of the penultimate session (1 hour) and the first half of the final session (1 hour) for concentrated preparation. Students were not expected to work on presentations at home or at school. 
  • Several teachers helped with presentation preparation during the last few sessions.

We are looking forward to more fantastic presentations at this year's series which in running throughout the forthcoming spring term.

If you would like any more details on this or on the Exeter masterclasses, please get in touch via maths@ri.ac.uk.


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