14th March saw Northgate and in particular, the Maths Department, celebrate Pi Day. Thanks go to the Tech department for the fantastic Pi Day badges they made for the Maths teachers and SLT!

Mrs Harvey and one of her pupils completing one of the Pi Day circle activities.

There was a competition in PART lesson with Pi (and Pie) related dingbats as well as a staff competition. Pupils were challenged at the start of their Maths lesson to guess how many digits Mr Russell could recite pi to – it was 81 digits – well done Mr Russell. Winners were treated to a range of circular biscuits! All Maths lessons had a circular theme with some pupils measuring circular items and looking at the relationship between the diameter and circumference of a circle, whilst others took part in circle based relays. Some groups did circle mysteries relying on them knowing the names of different parts of a circle whilst one of the higher year groups looked at a pie cutting problem which resulted in a quadratic sequence – complicated stuff! As if this wasn’t enough, Edwards and Blake kindly put chicken and vegetable pie on the menu as well as pi cupcakes!


Pi Day cakes!

Year 10 were also treated to a talk from our special guests David Thomas and Karen Skuse from Sticky Studying. Karen is a former Maths Teacher and David has an incredible memory. He talked about the poor start he had in life with his mother being addicted to drugs and alcohol and his step father beating him. He got into trouble at a young age, was kicked out of school and had a juvenile criminal conviction. He worked in a factory, then in an office and eventually became a fire fighter. After being told by his seniors that he would never pass his promotion exams, David decided to do something about it. He’d seen someone on the tv recite a shuffled pack of cards and ended up buying their book and starting to train his own memory. Within a few years he’d come 4th and 3rd at the World Memory Championships but really wanted to be the best so decided he would take on a Guinness World Record. In 1998 David managed to recite Pi to 22 500 digits, an incredible feat! (David showed us some of his skills by reciting Pi to the first 150 digits). He has since gone on to bigger and better things and also managed to recall 100 packs of individually shuffled cards! Over the last 20 years, David has spoken in over 20 different countries, written a best-selling book and appeared on a number of radio and tv programmes.

David Thomas talking about memory techniques pupils could use to help with revision.

David talked about how visualising things can help with remembering them, using colour, images, and different senses when learning. He challenged the Year 10s to remember 20 objects as he went around the room, describing them in certain places and what they were. Everyone was encouraged a few times to recall them up to a point with some success. He asked for a volunteer to recall all 20 items in front of everyone and the room went quiet! Jessica Gillies then volunteered and very successfully managed all 20 items – everyone gave her a round of applause. She didn’t expect what happened next, and neither did the rest of the audience. David got out his wallet and gave her a £20 note!

He went on to explain that in life it pays to put yourself forward, have a go, be willing to try, to stand out from the crowd and put yourself in situations which are outside of your comfort zone – something to really think about and take away. David’s speech was not only inspiring but motivating too, teaching us that whatever your background may be, if you are willing to put in the work you can really go far and succeed in life. The memory techniques he used can certainly be taken away to help with revision.

Karen Skuse and David Thomas with Miss Theobald from the Maths Department with their Pi Day cakes and badges!

David finished by showing one of the Sticky Studying videos – these are Maths based videos using images and memory techniques to help pupils remember and work with some of the key Maths concepts. All of our Year 10s and 11s are being provided with a free copy of the app to use as part of their Maths revision.

A big thank you and well done to the Maths department for a great day all round!

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