There have been many activities related to the Olympics made available over the past few years, and especially in the final lead up to the events this summer. However I thought that I would include here some thoughts from events that I attended and also an activity that I have used in the past.

It was the first day and I was staying with friends along the route of the Cycle Road Race. I knew nothing about cycling before the event but those in the know around us were happy to explain what was going on. We needed to plan our day and this depended on a little mathematics. We planned to see the race first in Twickenham, and then to make our way to Richmond park to catch them again after their nine laps of Box Hill.

So the problem was would we be able to make it to Richmond Park from Twickenham in the time it took them to do nine laps of Box Hill, or how long would we have for lunch? (Yes we found out later that there was a map with the estimated time of arrival at key points, but we did not know that at the time). It seemed to me an ideal problem

– What information would we need

– At what speed do they cycle on average (Average speed)

– When would the fastest groups get to the park and when would they be clear for us to be able to cross the road again (Maximum and minimum values)

– How does their speed change over the race (Graphs)?

Olympic Fencing

Unlike national competitions the Olympic event was run as a direct elimination competition, with one event on each day. For other competitions there are often rounds with fencers fighting each of the others in their group (poule). The bigger the group the more fights. The smaller the groups the more pistes (strips on which a fight takes place) are needed. I used to organise regional competitions. And having set out the rules about how the competition had to be organised I simply set the problem

‘If I start at 10:00 with 100 entries, how should I organise the competition and at what time should we have the gala final of eight fencers?’

I would answer questions that they asked (such as the time limit for a bout in a poule and in the direct elimination) but left them to decide how to organise it, including:

• The size of the poules
•When to switch from poules to direct elimination

You could try this for a school competition, or a sport with which you/they are familiar.

Sue Briggs,

August 2012.

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