Year 10 South West Residential Masterclass

During the Easter holidays, 24 masterclass students from across Devon and Cornwall came together for a thrre-day residential Masterclass. Jenny Sharp, the Masterclass organiser in Plymouth, tells us more.

  • Masterclass student group

    Students at the South West Residential Masterclass

    Credit: Royal Institution

24 students from across Devon and Cornwall who had attended the Plymouth and Truro Masterclass series the previous year, came together for a three day residential Masterclass during the Easter holidays. The course consisted of a number of Masterclasses led by staff from the University of Plymouth, Jenny Sharp, Paul Hewson and Stuart Rowlands, a Maths PGCE student, James, and two undergraduate Mathematics with Education students, Jason and Charlotte. The course was partly funded by the Devon and Cornwall Further Maths Network.

The students arrived on the first day apprehensive about what the course would be like and, as many were the only ones from their schools, all a bit nervous about meeting new people. However they all soon settled in as the first session on Matrices and Coding got underway and were soon engrossed in decoding passages, with the help of graphic calculators to perform the matrix calculations. By the first evening they had got to know each other and were working really well in their groups as they tried to work out how Jason and Charlotte were able to do the card tricks.

The morning session the next day was entitled "Testing the Will Rogers Phenomenon" which was run by Paul Hewson where the students designed and tested their own experiments. The afternoon session was a team quiz which was run by Charlotte and Jason and proved to be highly competitive! The evening session was on the Philosophy of Mathematics run by Stuart Rowlands lead to some enthusiastic debating on whether maths was invented or discovered. The final session of the course was run by one of our PGCE students, James, and he lead a very interactive and practical session on solving optimisation problems, again using the graphic calculator to help with the mathematics.

In between the sessions, there was time for the students to socialise; the weather was good to us so cricket and football was popular after a three hour session in the classroom, they could have a go at daily competitions, guess how many mini eggs were in the jar and work on a decoding exercise from the first session - everyone had a couple of lines of text which when decoded they needed to put into the correct order to recreate a passage from Winnie the Pooh.

All of the students were very enthusiastic about the course; feedback included "please make it longer!" "I learnt much more about different branches of maths on this course than in school", "it has really broadened my views on maths" and "it was great to meet people who shared my enthusiasm for maths". All the students left with each other's contact details and groups have met up for social events since the course.


  • It has really broadened my views on maths

    Student feedback

  • It was great to meet people who shared my enthusiasm for maths

    Student feedback