Mathematics Excellence at Rydal Penrhos: Year 13 Projects Impress
May 5, 2023

Two Rydal Penrhos A-Level Further Mathematicians culminated their Mechanics projects with presentations that illustrated their deep understanding of the subject.

Rydal Penrhos has long been recognized for its excellence in teaching mathematics, with pupils consistently achieving outstanding results both in GCSE / A-Level examinations and UK Maths Trust Challenges. Teachers in the Maths Department are among the most long-serving in the school, with decades of experience in the team, which includes both of our newly appointed Acting Deputy Principals.

Our Maths teachers use a diverse range of teaching methods to engage pupils and make them approach their subject in new and different ways. An example of this was seen recently when two pupils from Mr Baker’s Year 13 Further Maths class, Ethan and Ester, presented their painstakingly researched projects in the field of Mechanics – that is, the area of maths concerned with the relationships between force, matter, and motion among physical objects.

Several teachers and staff from both in- and outside the Maths Department visited the lesson to lend moral support and recognise the hard work and commitment that the pupils put into their projects. This included the likes of Acting Deputy Principal Mr Thomas, Science Faculty Leader Mr Robson, UCAS and Careers Advisor Mr Farnell, School Chaplain Rev’d Dr Beamish and RS, PSHE and RSE teacher Mrs Richardson.

First up was Ethan Bytheway, who many parents and friends of the school will know from his outstanding musical performances at both the Community Concert and Senior Spring Concert. Ethan’s project related to elasticity; using the skills and resources readily available to him as an A-Level student of Design Technology, the Year 13 pupil created a physical model to test, in his words, ‘how springy are my springs?’

The premise may have been simple, but the maths was anything but! Ethan showed an impressive understanding of his subject as he detailed not only the results of his model but all the potential variables that could explain why the results he recorded did not entirely adhere to the theoretical projections. At the end of his presentation, Ethan adeptly answered some tough questions posed by Mr Robson and Mr Thomas, further illustrating his command of his topic.

Next up was our Head Girl and recent winner of the Derbyshire Trophy for Girls’ Sport, Ester Ball-Iversen. The talented academic and sports all-rounder focused her presentation on oblique impacts and energy. Oblique impacts occur when the direction of motion of one or both particles is at an angle to the line of impact. To demonstrate this phenomenon, Ester drew comparisons to various real-world case studies, including the mechanics of cue sport games such as snooker and pool.

Ester’s physical model involved a glass marble being dropped down a ramp. Making use of a tool every one of us carries in their pockets – a smartphone – Ester took slow-motion videos of the marble in motion to produce her measurements. Like Ethan, Ester answered the questions put to her astutely, while demonstrating an appreciation of the limits of her model, and potential improvements that could be made.

The standard of both presentations was excellent, and a reflection of the superb maths teaching Mr Baker and his colleagues in the Senior Maths department deliver for all Rydal Penrhos pupils Year 7 and above. Mr Thomas and Mr Robson were effusive in their praise of the two pupils, with the latter stating that the pair’s presentations were among the best he had seen over the years.

Well done both!