The rationale behind the creation of the Hands-On Maths Roadshow was to develop activities which presented creative methods of exploring mathematics and stimulating mathematical curiosity which would provide face-to-face support and reinforcement for the online activities of the MMP. The activities used for Roadshow visits are largely based on resources from the NRICH website and are in the form of games, puzzles and mathematical challenges
Although many teachers at all levels use investigative activities in the classroom, the Roadshow provides a freer, more 'playful' environment than can be allowed in class in most instances. The aim of the sessions is to give an opportunity for pupils of all ages, and their teachers, to engage in discussion, co-operation, activity, investigation, problem solving and enjoy the experience of being involved in 'maths' in a new context. The fact that the sessions take place out of the classroom and with someone else, other than their teacher, who gets pleasure and satisfaction out of mathematical activity is a motivating experience for many pupils
This motivation is reinforced when older pupils are used as peer assistors - for example, for an 11 year old, working with a 15 or 17 year old who is enthusiastic about maths, from the same school, acts as a positive influence on the pupil's attitude to the subject; the same with a 6 year old working with a 10 year old. Peer assistance is beneficial to all parties - the older pupils consolidating skills and concepts when working with a less experienced mathematician. In primary schools, and especially with 4 and 5 year olds, parents are encouraged to be involved in the sessions too. Parents get a chance to see what challenges are being offered to their infants and, for many of them, an opportunity to engage in mathematical activity in a comforting and non-threatening environment.
The pedagogical essence of the Roadshow is a sense of involvement in mathematics for its own sake. Whilst the activities help pupils to practise skills, develop and reinforce concepts and build strategies, immersion in a task that they are enjoying enhances the positive aspects of their developing attitudes towards mathematics. The impetus to maintain this heightened motivation is provided by the NRICH website - activities that the pupils have enjoyed in a HandsOn session can be followed up in class and at home, with the facility to access other challenges from the range of activities housed on the site, and we therefore hope that the initial impact of the Roadshow will lead to sustained work on mathematics enrichment activity.
The Roadshow is enjoyed by pupils of all ages from 4 to 18, and adults who have had the opportunity to take part have also expressed a feeling of satisfaction from their involvement. Many of the tasks are differentiated by their outcome, the same task - for example, the well-known 'Tower of Hanoi' - being suitable for engaging a 7 year old in developing higher order thinking skills and encouraging a 14 year old to form an algebraic rule for describing the development of a number pattern.