Mearns Primary triumphs over 2,149 classes in UK maths contest

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Primary six pupils from Mearns Primary School have won a UK-wide competition that tests numeracy using the popular, online “learning engine” ‘Sumdog’.

Sumdog is a global phenomenon – used in thousands of schools across the world – which uses motivational games to encourage students to practice maths, reading and writing.

East Renfrewshire Council is encouraging all of its 22 primary schools to use the free maths tool to supplement traditional teaching methods.

Mearns Primary Teacher Anna Cairns whose P6.21 class won the UK competition and has twice triumphed in East Renfrewshire contests, explains the benefits.

She said, “Sumdog is an engaging, modern educational tool that shows pupils the relevance of maths in everyday situations and makes calculations fun and exciting.

“Each pupil gets their own login and undertakes initial problem-solving to establish their baseline ability. The system then uses an algorithm to create games that are tailored to each pupil, providing them with plenty of opportunity to practise and consolidate skills they have learned in class, or to compete against peers of comparable ability.”

Sumdog games create a virtual world where each pupil has their own fun avatar and house and can earn coins by giving correct answers. The coins can then be spent on personal and household items.

Anna’s P6.21 class of 31 children are so enthusiastic about the concept that they have been known to login in the morning at home to get warmed up before class.

She continues, “Once a week, the P6.21 class spends time in the school computer suite and it’s then that Sumdog really comes into its own. I like to work with small groups of children to introduce a particular topic and then set a Sumdog game to see if they have grasped it. That carries on for the hour until everyone has had some group work with me and time online to practise on their own.”

Sumdog runs frequent contests to help children sharpen their skills and Anna says Mearns Primary pupils responded beautifully to the challenge.

The UK contest that Mearns Primary’s maths superstars won saw them compete against 2,149 other classes with a total of 21,309 students participating.

The contest followed a familiar Sumdog format with each participating pupil answering 1,000 questions over a seven-day period and the system analysing thousands of answers to come up with a score for each class.

Mearns Primary P6.21 class achieved an overall score of 879 out of a possible 1,000, pipping their nearest rival – also from Scotland – by six points.

There were also prizes to recognise individual performance with 10 year-old Euan Inglis who came 18th out of 21,309 pupils just missing out on a coveted Sumdog certificate.

He said, “I’m very proud of myself and my class for coming first in the UK Sumdog competition.”

Anna Cairns adds, “It was a fantastic experience for everyone. The children really enjoyed working individually and collaboratively to take the title. Best of all, their grasp of mental maths, problem-solving and fractions has never been better!”