Issue date: 31 January 2003

Mathematicians and Engineers at the University of the West of England will demonstrate to a group of year 10 pupils how mathematics can be used to solve problems in rocket launching, cooking burgers and controlling robots. The pupils from Haygrove School in Bridgwater will attend a series of workshops at the University on Thursday 23 January 2003.

Dr John Cobby, Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics explains two of the problems the pupils will learn how to solve using Mathematics

“To fire a rocket (squash ball!) to hit a target at known distance from the launcher requires knowledge of the relationship between the distance and the angle of the launcher. The pupils will experiment with changing the angle of firing and measure the distance the ball travels, plotting the relationship. They will then be given a target to fire at and hit first time!

“Running a fast food outlet is a complicated business. Customers arrive randomly and the type of burger they order cannot be predicted. The time taken to serve a customer also varies and so does the time taken to cook the food. If the rate of producing burgers is too slow customers may get fed up with waiting and leave. However, burgers have a short shelf life so if too many are produced there will be a high wastage rate. The manager will want to maximise his profit and at the same time keep the customers happy. How does he manage this? – by using mathematics of course! As the system is too complicated for a few mathematical equations and simulation techniques have to be used. The pupils will have the opportunity to use a powerful computer simulation package to experiment with different cooking rates and discover the optimum rate to maximise profit.”

The school pupils will also have a chance to look at the University facilities and get a feel for life as a University student. This event is a typical example of the services that UWE can provide to local schools and colleges. For further information on school activities please contact Diane Stone, Widening Participation and Community Action Centre Co-ordinator on 0117 3442972 or email diane.stone@uwe.ac.uk


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