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Schoolchildren across the UK blast maths into space to celebrate National Numeracy Day

22 May 2024

Today, Mathematics received an interstellar boost as schoolchildren across the UK joined a star-studded event to celebrate National Numeracy Day.

Katya Jones, Bobby Seagull, Jessica Gagen and Dr Robert Massey with children from William Davis School

Organised by the charity National Numeracy, the event featured a collaboration with BBC CBeebies Numberblocks, the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS), and three celebrity ambassadors for a spectacular livestream aimed at primary school kids.

The event, broadcast live from William Davis School in Bethnal Green, London, featured Strictly’s Katya Jones, TV presenter and maths teacher Bobby Seagull, and Miss World Europe and aerospace engineer Jessica Gagen. They were joined by RAS Deputy Director Dr Robert Massey and a very special guest, Numberblock One, for a space-themed celebration of numbers.

The initiative aimed to help children see that numbers can be fun, especially when related to enjoyable activities like stargazing and dancing.

Jessica Gagen, Bobby Seagull, Katya Jones and Dr Robert Massey

Katya Jones and Numberblock One kicked off the event with a specially created dance routine while the panel answered various space-related questions sent in by schools.

Curious minds inquired about when they might go into orbit, the distance to the moon, the possibility of schools in space, and the concept of time in space.

Katya Jones leading children in a dance

To highlight the day's events, a CBeebies Numberblocks toy was sent into space using a giant hydrogen-filled balloon.

Numberblock Ten ascended to over 33km, reaching the upper 0.05% of Earth's atmosphere, symbolising the campaign's ambition to elevate maths learning to new heights.

Numberblock Ten in space

Bobby Seagull emphasized the importance of making maths relatable: “National Numeracy Day is all about helping the UK feel good about numbers. Teaching children through activities they love, such as dancing or space exploration, can boost their confidence in maths. As we discovered, maths is integral to exploring space!”

Katya Jones said, "I loved bringing some Strictly sparkle and dance energy to National Numeracy Day Live! I am passionate about showing children that numbers can be fun and are part of everyday life. Linking dancing with maths helps children learn new skills and gain confidence."

Bobby Seagull with children

Dr. Robert Massey praised the event's impact: “It’s wonderful to see people from diverse backgrounds promoting numeracy and inspiring children with space and astronomy. Mathematics is crucial for understanding our universe and navigating life.”

Sam Sims, CEO of National Numeracy, highlighted the event's significance: “Starting early to feel confident with numbers is vital. This engaging event showed children how interesting numbers can be. The amazing pupils at William Davis School had fun using maths, capturing the essence of National Numeracy Day.”

Jessica Gagen with children

Free resources for children across the UK

With 49% of the UK’s working-age population having the numeracy levels expected of a primary school child, National Numeracy Day aims to change this statistic.

The National Numeracy Day Live event is available to watch again on the charity’s website, along with a host of free resources for both primary and secondary school children.

Watch the live event

Get resources for children

The celebrities with children