Pupils use maths to predict winner of Australian Open

More than 50 pupils will attend the Anyone for tennis (and maths)? event this Saturday at Robert Gordon University
More than 50 pupils will attend the Anyone for tennis (and maths)? event this Saturday at Robert Gordon University

School pupils from across Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire will use their maths skills this weekend to calculate the most likely winner of the Australian Open on Sunday.

More than 50 pupils will attend the ‘Anyone for tennis (and maths)?’ event this Saturday at Robert Gordon University, where industry mentor Adrian McBurnie from Maersk Oil will give an introduction to mathematical concepts.

Techfest will host the event as part of The Maths Masterclasses 2016/2017 series, which is supported by The Royal Institution and sponsored by Chevron North Sea Limited.

Local schools taking part in the event are Peterhead Academy, Mintlaw Academy and Ellon Academy.

This masterclass will explore how maths can be applied to work out how likely a player is to win a particular match, based on his chance of winning an individual point in the match.

The students will learn about using the concept of probability to measure how likely an event is to occur using practical experiments such as coin tosses.

They will then be introduced to geometric progressions by considering what would happen if Usain Bolt, the fastest man in the world, gave presenter Adrian McBurnie a 40m head start in a race and plotting if he would ever catch him.

Finally, the students will look at combinatorics to study the number of ways tennis scores can be arranged, before combining all these ideas into a massive calculation to determine a tennis player’s chances of winning the match if his chances of winning a point are known.

The Maths Masterclasses 2016/2017 series has run since November and provided an exciting opportunity for youngsters to experience some different mathematics topics and hear from professionals who are passionate about maths.

Laura Easton, Chevron Upstream Europe’s stakeholder engagement and social investment advisor, said: “Tomorrow’s Chevron employees are today’s schoolchildren and through programmes like TechFest’s Maths Masterclasses we hope to support the promotion of STEM activities to young people.

"Mathematics is all around us in everything we do and the innovative challenges developed by TechFest will play an important role in helping enhance the pupils experience-based learning and inspire them to pursue STEM-based careers.”

This is one of five masterclasses taking place in the city, with the final scheduled for Saturday, March 11.

Molly Imrie, TechFest STEM co-ordinator, said: “The purpose of the Maths Masterclasses series is to demonstrate to young people how maths can be applied in everyday life – even in a game of tennis!

“We are so grateful to each of our presenters for using such engaging and out of the ordinary scenarios to demonstrate their expertise and inspire pupils to pursue STEM-based careers.

“We’d also like to thank all of the school children who have taken part in Techhfest’s Maths Masterclasses so far and to The Royal Institution and Chevron for their continued support.”

Each year, TechFest runs the highly popular TechFest Science Festival which attracts tens of thousands of children and adults to a series of STEM-based events in and around Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire, as well as a year-round programme of educational events for schools and young people.