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Headstart in the Queue

Posted on 26/07/2011

Students ditched their classrooms for a day at a theme park to discover just how maths could help them cheat lengthy queues for rides during a workshop run by Royal Holloway, University of London.

Pupils from schools across the UK took part in the event at Thorpe Park, which was organised in collaboration between Royal Holloway, University of London and education charity Headstart.

The workshop was part of Headstart’s programme of events designed to encourage sixth form students to take up courses and careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

The day at Thorpe Park was aimed at bringing mathematical theory into the real world with the students analysing the maths of queuing, looking at how simple formulas could help explain why queues form.

Professor Simon Blackburn, from the Department of Mathematics at Royal Holloway, said: “It was a pleasure to talk to such an enthusiastic audience, and it was a great opportunity to show how simple mathematics can shed light on why queues form, how queues behave and why we can’t always get rid of them. Showing how the mathematics we learn at school can give you answers to real world problems is something I’m very interested in, and I hope that everyone there left with an appreciation of the power of understanding that a little knowledge of mathematics can give you.”

This collaboration with Headstart is just one of Royal Holloway’s outreach events aimed at encouraging young people to consider continuing into further education.

Dr Emm Barnes, Science Outreach Officer at Royal Holloway said: “Outreach with young people is core in our vision for sharing educational opportunities with everyone. We especially value working with local employers to show the applications of maths in unexpected places such as roller coasters and queues."


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