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Students learn how failure can lead to success

For the second time, UTC Reading has successfully run Risk-Taking and Problem-Solving Week.

The purpose of this week is to develop the skills needed to approach the new (9-1) GCSE Maths problem-solving questions. The aim is for students to learn that successful problem-solving relies heavily on trial and improvement techniques developed as a result of failure made throughout.

The project was inspired by UTC Reading’s Director of Mathematics, Cimen Sahin, who led the week for the first time in 2016. This year, all Year 10 students at the UTC were divided into 16 teams of four to five students to tackle different types of problems as part of their new GCSE Maths curriculum. Congratulations to team Hurwitz (Holly Maddox, Ellen Winhammar, Rhiannon Dodson and Aleksander Rozek) who were announced as the winners at the end of the week.

To give staff and students the opportunity to get involved, throughout the week Maths problems were written on windows along the UTC’s main corridor for them to attempt to solve. We also engaged parents by posting sample Maths problems on Facebook and Twitter, encouraging them to support their children at home.

Students were also given the opportunity to attend a guest speaker session led by young entrepreneur, Graham Kitteridge. Graham is co-founder and prototype engineer at Think Engineer – a research and development company specialising in prototype software and hardware. Graham shared his story and gave examples of the essential role of problem solving in product development, showing pictures of failed attempts that led to a final product.

Graham said: “It’s great to see that the curriculum is moving towards having more problem solving challenges rather than students simply remembering a set of information. Failure is an important part of developing both skills and knowledge and it’s great that UTC are tackling this head on with talks and workshops.”

Thank you to all students, staff and parents who took part – we look forward to running the project again next year.

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