Bright Sparks Makes Maths Fun

BITCI News - Members News - Uncategorized - Jun 28, 2013

kpmgbrightsparksThe winning project from KPMG’s 2013 Project Bright initiative – called Bright Sparks, was rolled out to Junior Cycle students in CBS Westland Row in March/April and it was a resounding success. The project focused on addressing the need for better numeracy skills for young people and making maths fun. The students who participated in Bright Sparks loved the programme with 82% responding that said that they were more positive about maths after completing it.

The winning KPMG team tirelessly worked on preparing the course content, working with the school, scheduling the timelines, organising client site visits and rolling out the programme between December 2012 and the end of April 2013.

Bright Sparks is a maths programme aimed at Junior Cycle students from a disadvantaged background. Its purpose is to halt the on-going trend amongst this demographic of poor numerical ability and a lack of interest in mathematics. During a series of sessions with the students, the team developed the students problem solving and numerical skills through teamwork, quizzes and tutorials all based around the practical application of maths in the real world. These sessions were interspersed with two field trips to see maths “in action” in two client sites: Google and DCC.

In March, the students visited Google’s European Headquarters, and were met by the John Herlihy, MD. He spoke about how maths is important in everything they do in Google. He told the students that he trained in KPMG and that maths continued to be a huge focus in everything he does on a day-to-day basis. In April, the group went on a trip to DCC’s Robert Roberts facility in Tallaght to see the how they manufacture Meanie crisps on the production line. The also were set the task of working out the costs of manufacturing various elements of the process, including transportation costs and profitability.

Some of the comments from the students who participated in the programme, “Lisa and Laura made algebra easier to understand”, “I have never done trigonometry before and they showed us that maths can be useful and fun”, “The visit to Google was amazing and we saw that everyone there had to use maths.”

The team harnessed the experienced skill set of the volunteers who participated in this project. Everyone involved loved the programme. “We had the opportunity to make a lasting impact on the lives of young people who have not been afforded the same encouragement and opportunities as we had in school.”

Lauren Sharp, one of the team members coordinating the programme said, “It has been an amazing experience to have been able to develop our “Bright Sparks” programme with CBS Westland Row. It was brilliant to see such enthusiasm and hard work from all the students, but in particular how much fun they had. In the end, I think we enjoyed it and learned as much as they did!”


The reason that this type of maths class is so needed:

  • Mathematical ability amongst Irish 15 year olds is “significantly below the OECD average and Ireland is ranked 26th out of 34 OECD countries”.
  • The introduction of Project Maths places a greater emphasis on the practical elements of mathematics.
  • Taking the above into consideration and in light of a recent survey of members of the Irish Maths Teachers Association, there is a substantial need to generate an interest in students from an early stage in maths. “75% of maths teachers thought students would benefit if maths teaching in schools was combined with industrial visits to view real-life application of maths.”

KPMG’s Bright Sparks Programme aims to create an enthusiasm among students in mathematics. It certainly helped to bring about a more positive attitude towards the subject. On completion of the programme students understood why maths is so important and plays such an integral role in today’s world. Each participating student was awarded a certificate for completing the course.


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