Developing fun educational materials

Case Study – Development of a Challenge Activity

Our Nappy Changing Challenge activity was commissioned by Yorkshire Forward, the regional development agency for Yorkshire and the Humber, as part of the Cre8ate Maths project with the objective of improving functional skills through themed activities. The brief was to create a fun data activity to promote the topic of ‘Child Care and the Early Years’.

Working closely with a team of teachers, our creative team developed a competitive hands-on activity.

1. Baby Alexander is passed around the group to estimate how much he weighs.
2. The children work together to prepare their nappy for a change.
3. Following a demonstration, each child gets to perform a nappy change as quickly as possible.
4. In addition to timing the change, the quality of the change is also recorded on the specially designed data collection form.

Nappy Changing Challenge

The data is entered into the data collection tool and the data set is available for analysis. With a fully engaged and enthused group the investigations are typically driven by the children. The most popular investigation is finding out whether Boys or Girls are better at changing a baby’s nappy. This leads to some interesting discussions on setting the criteria for deciding who is best and what data and summary measures to use to support their claim.

Nappy Changing Challenge

Nappy Changing ChallengeTake part in the Nappy Changing Challenge. To date over 1000 children have taken part in the challenge. The activities cover estimation, measurement, conversion, opinions and engagement is encouraged by introducing a competitive element.



•    Are boys faster at changing a baby's nappy? 
•    Are girls better at changing a baby's nappy?
•    Who should change a baby's nappy?

What is in your bowl?

what is in your bowl?"What is in your bowl?" provides real data for analysis. Perform the "What is in your bowl?" activities with your class to investigate serving amounts and what is eaten for breakfast.

The data collection activities cover estimation and measurement and enable many investigations to be performed:
•    Do boys eat more cereal than girls?
•    What is a typical serving amount?
•    Does bowl diameter affect serving amount?
•    What do pupils eat for breakfast?
•    How healthy are breakfast cereals?

Classroom Olympics

Classroom OlympicsClassroom Olympics was launched at the English Institute of Sport (EIS) in December 2009.
Classroom Olympics provides real data about pupils for analysis.
Performing the “How far can you …?” events in the classroom engages pupils, enables data collection and motivates data investigations.

Classroom Olympics also allows pupils to voice their opinion on their preferred Olympic sports in schools. Cotton wool shot put and triple jump from a standing start are the focus of the class activities together with measuring foot length and pupil height.


StretchinessThis topic models one way in which engineers use their knowledge of mathematics to investigate the properties of materials. Here the property under investigation is the stretchiness of jelly sweets.

Measuring stretchiness involves the collection of real data, percentages, and experimental design.

Pit Stop

Pit StopPupils work in ‘Racing teams’ to develop their engineering skills in modifying and testing model solar cars for specific challenges. Pupils collect their own data and use this information to inform their decisions.

Within the 'How fast…?' and 'Hill climb' activities there is scope to discuss the different ways in which a gradient can be displayed i.e. ratio, percentage, decimal, angle.  Time and distance data is collected to calculate the car’s speed for the various surfaces and the results used throughout other activities.
Distance time graphs motivate interesting discussion of the cars racing performance over different race tracks in the Race you car activity. Bringing it all together the Formula 8 race meeting involves estimation, collecting race times and determining the finishing position.

Greenest Route

Greest routeThis topic deals with the external costs of transport which affect society, but are not paid for by the transport users who cause them. Road, rail, air and water are compared.

The activities provide an opportunity for work on inverse proportion, conversion calculations, compound percentage change and information handling skills.

Cre8 Salon

Cre8 SalonResearch conducted has indicated that many trainees / school leavers who are employed in vocational positions struggle with the numeracy skills needed in the workplace. Cre8 salon is a series of flexible activities that are designed to simulate some of the challenges of work in the context of a beauty salon. Pupils can model eye, hair and skin colour and take bookings at the Cre8 Salon.

These tasks involve logical thinking.


RabbitsA probability model is developed from historical data which is then used to simulate the breeding of rabbits in a field and consider the likely damage to the farmer’s crop.

In this activity pupils analyse data and work with probabilities and probability
models, draw bar graphs and compare results.

Going Bananas

Going bananasCurrent healthy eating guidelines advise eating at least 5 fruit or vegetable portions a day. In this topic pupils work out what a portion size looks like, find out whether they are eating enough fruit and vegetables and compare the costs of making and buying smoothies.

In "How much is in a portion?" pupils estimate weight, work with measures and
calculate percentage errors.
Five-a-day explores the use of summary measures to describe and compare data. There are opportunities for pupils to compare data handling representations and to estimate means from grouped data.
The smoothie challenge requires pupils to do calculations involving money, weight and volume and develops the skills of organising and processing information, making decisions and interpreting results.

Helicopter Seeds

Helicopter SeedsMany species of plants take to the air to disperse their seed and germinate away from their parent plant. Understanding how seeds disperse helps agriculturalists propagate self-dispersal crops and manage weed populations.

We recommend pupils work in groups to design and construct their own helicopter seeds.
Flight testing involves the pupils in data collection and recording, measurement and the calculation of averages. It also gives good first-hand experience of the idea of range.

Minimise or Supersize

Minimise or SupersizeHow many of us are aware of the calories, sugar, salt and fat contained in the food we eat? How many of us use the information provided on food labels as best we can? In this topic, pupils critically compare nutritional measures and calculate their daily energy requirements.

The pupils will calculate proportions and percentages, work with measures, use
formulae, organise and process information and work with data handling

More miles for your money

More miles for your moneyWith high fuel costs, many freight and logistics companies are looking at ways to reduce running costs. Fuel efficiency is also environmentally desirable. Based on information and guides provided by the Department of Transport, this topic introduces the cost benefits of improving the aerodynamics of the cab section of a truck.

These activities involve using calculators and spreadsheets to work on conversions and percentages in the context of a complex multi-step problem. Considerable mathematical thinking is involved in breaking down the problem into simpler steps, keeping track of the constituent parts and analysing the final results.
SPoC 4 Schools

Racing driver and kids

Data collection games

Stig and teacher

Professional development for teachers

In addition to children performing the Nappy Changing Challenge at events and in the classroom, the challenge has been used for professional development workshops for teachers. A regional teacher workshop held at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park had a special guest setting the target changing time.

Promoting the subject of Statistics

Our challenge activities have also been presented at an international statistics conference as an approach to promote a positive experience of statistics at an early age.

Conker Statistics presentation at IASE  

International Association for Statistics Education conference
 (IASE) Dublin 2011

Book a school event

Coming soon