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Wednesday, 5 January, 2000, 01:34 GMT
Maths Year clock starts ticking

clock face The first of six themes for the year is time

The government is beginning a year-long drive to improve the understanding and awareness of mathematics.

my2k logo The logo for the year: Spot the theorem?
"We want to help create a 'let's do - can do' attitude towards maths and give everyone the chance to increase their confidence and maths skills and discover the fun and excitement of numbers," say the organisers of Maths Year 2000.

They are keen to stress that it is not only for schoolchildren, although there will be television adverts to raise parents' awareness of how they can help their children study.

They have come up with six bi-monthly themes to focus people's interest.

Virtual museum

The first, Maths on Time, celebrates the history of maths and explores the uses of time.

On the Maths Year 2000 website you can tour virtual galleries in a museum of maths and answer questions related to what is there, such as when the first mechanical calculating device was invented.

There are also Did you know..? items, such as if the last digit of a number is either 5 or 0, then the whole number is a multiple of 5. To be divisible by 12, a number must also be divisible by 2 and 3 and 4 and 6, that is, by all the factors of 12 - there are interactive panels to test various numbers.

There are also various games for people to compete with the site's computer.

The other five themes for the year are: maths takes shape, maths at work, maths at play, maths and people, and maths and money.

Family fun

There are to be hundreds of local, regional and national events including 'mathsfests' intended to appeal to all the family, with silly as well as serious activities.

maths teacher A later theme will concentrate on shapes
"Maths underpins so many things and, with ever increasing advances in technology, it has a vital role to play," says the Education Secretary, David Blunkett.

"A feel for numbers is an essential everyday skill - from shopping in the supermarket to working out mortgages, pensions or bills.

"So Maths Year 2000 is an ideal opportunity to tackle our fear of figures and improve the nation's numeracy skills."

Major sponsors of the year, McVities, KP Foods and Mirror Newspapers, have embarked on a token collection scheme, Free Maths Stuff for Schools: 38,000 schools are eligible in the UK and Republic of Ireland.

Shops are also sponsoring maths activities, games and software and there is a Fantasy Football League game for secondary schools.

Things are happening elsewhere too. The Institute of Pure and Applied Mathematics declared that 2000 should be World Mathematical Year.

There are to be conferences on different themes, activities for children and poster campaigns emphasising aspects of maths and maths teaching.

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See also:
04 Nov 99 |  Education
Maths link aims to motivate pupils
02 Sep 99 |  Education
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