Helping Limerick children to find the fun in maths

Olivia Clarke and Jade Sambrook, two 6th class students in the Convent of > Mercy, Newport, will be taking part in a new maths initiative aimed at > equipping students with 21st century digital and maths skills.

by Bernie English

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TWO Limerick teachers are getting funding for a programme that puts fun into maths while helping youngsters develop the skills they will need in the digital economy.

Conor Griffin from Castletroy and Cian O’Brien from Mungret have designed the computer programme ‘Virtown’ which allows school children to let their imaginations run riot designing buildings and whole towns.

“To build a house or a building you have to use measurements and maths skills,” Conor told the Limerick Post.

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“This is a real-life application of the skills they learn on the maths curriculum and it’s a fun, interactive way to do it,”

Conor teaches primary maths at Convent of Mercy school in Newport and says that the first class he worked with on Virtown “absolutely loved it”.

“We’re about to introduce a new class to the programme now,” he added.

Having secured seed funding from the Social Entrepreneurs project, they are hoping to expand their teaching programme to help students in second level develop the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills necessary for surviving in the digital economy.

“We are also looking at the possibility of partnering with third level institutions,” Conor said.

The project was inspired by the classic computer game “Sims’ in which characters are given tasks and instructions in making life work.

Social Entrepreneurs Ireland has granted seed funding to 13 people working on exciting ideas to solve social problems across Ireland. Seed funding of €5,000 has been allocated to Conor and Cian to develop the ‘Virtown’ programme.

All seed fund recipients took part in the 2021 Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Ideas Academy, an annual three-month programme that provides training and support to help people with early-stage ideas solve Ireland’s social problems.

The programme includes sessions on storytelling, piloting and governance as well as peer learning and additional supports.

At the end of the programme, all 60 participants had the opportunity to apply and pitch for seed funding from a pot of €50,000.

Principals interested in running the programme in their schools can contact [email protected] for more information.