Pirate FM’s Neil and Saffy Multiply Their Maths Skills

National Numeracy Day 2023 

On Tuesday 16th May, ahead of National Numeracy Day 2023, we teamed up with Neil and Saffy from Cornwall’s Pirate FM as they joined us for our drop-in session at Malabar Community Centre in Truro.

Before they came along Neil recalled on air how little Maths he remembered from his school days and how he felt like he was failing his daughter when he tried to support her with her SATs worksheets. He then challenged Saffy to, what he referred to as, “Cornwall’s biggest Maths test” live on air and asked her the following questions:

1. A bag contains 3 red balls, 5 blue balls and 2 green balls. A ball is chosen at random from the bag. Find the probability that it will be:

  • Green
  • Blue
  • Red
  • Not red

2. Jacob is paid £10 an hour. His monthly pay for October was £890 How many hours did hours did Jacob work in October?

3. Carly needs 42000 blocks of Lego to build a large castle. The lego blocks are sold in boxes of 100. How many boxes of lego does she need?

4. Write down the value of the digit 2 in the answer 125000.

5. Work out twenty thousand divided by one million.

How would you have got on with these questions?

Despite Neil only giving her a fraction of a question Saffy whizzed through the entire first question with a fantastic explanation of how she worked out the answers.

After they had finished presenting the breakfast show they made their way to Malabar where they were joined by Angela, one of Pirate FM’s love crew. On arrival Saffy appeared confident and excited. Neil on the other hand was noticeably more nervous.

We had a chat over a cuppa and discussed their experiences of Maths from school through into adulthood and gave some background of the Multiply project.

Angie gave an overview of the 3 Maths topics that we would be covering throughout the session (usually we would only cover one of these):

“Power to the People” – multiplying and dividing by 10, 100, 1000 etc. This is an important basic skill that also helps us to understand the number system and the place value of number. In turn, this really helps with understanding fractions, decimals and percentages – they are all linked.

“Box it up” – Proportional reasoning and multiplicative thinking. This is a big topic at the moment, particularly in Primary Schools who are introducing a toolkit of strategies that young people can use quickly to solve problems. Proportional reasoning means being flexible with numbers and involves breaking down numbers easily to see them in different ways. This helps the us to solve problems by using a variety of strategies and methods.

“What are the chances?” –  experimental and theoretical probability and understanding how the probability scale works. Probability helps us to calculate risks and the likelihood of an event happening.

Neil joked “I do use probability everyday when we’re on air because I often think, what’s the probability that Saffy’s going to make it back from the toilet before we next speak on the radio?”

The Pirate Presenters and Love Crew were joined by drop-ins Kerry, Dave and their son Stephen. We were also really pleased to have Liam (Guidance Officer) join us, prior to his official transfer to the Multiply team in July. Everyone put in an impressive amount of effort and were all wonderful additions to the session: it was fabulous to see their confidence grow.

Angie summed up the session by saying: “You’ve challenged yourselves. You’ve actually done amazingly. So just remember, you can all do maths!”

The following morning Neil and Saffy had their own National Numeracy Day Number Natter as they told Cornwall about their Multiply experience. Neil told listeners “We had a really great time there yesterday”. Saffy agreed, adding “I really enjoyed the session…Angie is a phenomenal teacher. The whole crew at Multiply are there to give you a helping hand so don’t have any reservations about going. Pop along, see what you can do, challenge yourself.”

The overarching theme for our drop-in sessions is to improve maths confidence among adults in Cornwall and help them to realise that being numerate goes beyond simply ‘doing sums’.  It means having the confidence and competence to use numbers and think mathematically in everyday life. From estimating, identifying possibilities, weighing up different options, and choosing the most appropriate approach to tackle a problem. Being numerate supports a surprising range of areas in everyone’s lives, whatever their age. It’s a valuable skill that we believe everyone has a right to access throughout their lives.

We thoroughly enjoyed having Neil, Saffy, Angela, Kerry and Dave join us for this session and look forward to seeing how these drop-ins continue to develop as we welcome more people.

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