Fantastic students find their feet in Florence

Last year the maths department took Ark Academy sixth form students on a trip, inspired by our unique curriculum, to learn about mathematics behind the architecture of Barcelona.

Following from this success we chose to visit the birthplace of the renaissance. The story of the renaissance is a story of mathematics, technology and science that allowed art and culture to flourish. Da Vinci himself was a great artist and scientist.

Our aims for this trip were to develop an understanding of maths beyond the classroom, learn about Italian culture and foster independence in our students by putting them in an environment out of their comfort zone.

Our journey began midday on Friday 5th July. As our students arrived at reception we realised two students had brought enormous suitcases and one had forgotten their passport! After frantic phone calls and students going back home, we made it to Luton on time so off we flew to our first stop - Bologna.

When we arrived at our hostel we were greeted by a welcoming atmosphere, air conditioned rooms and folded towels on the beds complete with complementary shower gel resting on top. The weary travelers couldn’t contain their excitement especially after a long walk to the hostel in 35o heat.

The next morning we enjoyed a continental breakfast although a few students and teachers were too tired to make it down to breakfast. While we waited for the group to get ready for a day in Bologna there was enough time for Mr T and Ms Ozeke to beat all challenges at table football. Mahdi was particularly distraught as he played in almost every single game.

In the town Mr T took us on a tour of the city past the oldest university in the world, an enormous cathedral and a pair of twin towers. One tilted more than the leaning tower of Pisa.

After the tour students were given free time to explore for themselves and develop their independence. Lead by Ayub and Amaaima, some daring students chose to join us climbing the towers and there were many sweaty palms climbing the winding, narrow and difficult stairs. The view from the top was worth it though. Red brick rooftops as far as the eye could see. Nikul pointed out that it was like being in a video game. Assassins Creed.

After the tower some students dined on delicious Bolognese food but the boys had enough energy to rent bikes. Ms Ozeke and Mr T thought so too as they joined in on our journey back to the hostel. Then it was onwards to Florence, a short train ride away.

Once we made it to Florence the students made it clear they were disappointed with the new. No air conditioning, keys that didn’t work and a smelly lobby were some of the complaints.

That night we continued to wander and I walked the group to the breathtaking cathedral of Santa Maria del Fioire. Now all the boys said were in Assassins Creed. To end of our first full day in Italy there were two awards.

The keen bean of bologna. This was awarded someone who’s enthusiasm and positivity was infectious. Especially as she lead the way up the tower of Bologna - Amaaima Gahaani.

The try harder award. For a student who needed to be more organised, and improve his table football skills - Mahdi Mirabdulagh

On Sunday morning Amaaima, Dhruvini, Mr T and Ms Ozeke brought breakfast for everyone and we enjoyed it in the hostel lobby. Then we ventured out to the world famous Ufizi museum. Home to works by Italian masters including Leonardo Da Vinci and MIchealangelo. Many rich conversations were had about the lavish decoration, subject matter and history. Musse, Momin and Subayda were impressive in this respect but Sasha really shone. She captured some fabulous photos and gave detailed interpretations of the work. She had done her research and it really showed!

Our tour ended and we congregated in the cafe on the roof of the Ufizi and the heavens opened. Through large floor to ceiling glass windows we witnessed rain pelting down as the building shook and the sky was lit up by thunder and lightning. A crowd had gathered to watch and many of our students captured the lightning flashes on camera.

In the evening a small group went to the supermarket and brought picnic food and all the boys pitched in to carry a bag up a hill to Piazzale Michealangelo. There we ate on steps that overlooked the entire city and soaked up the views as the sun went down.

“Going to Italy was a one of the most fantastic trips I have experienced. It was fun, lively and very much enjoyable. What I liked the most about the trip was riding bikes with everyone, climbing the leaning tower and also having a picnic with everyone whilst seeing the amazing view of Florence.”Musse A

“I enjoyed visiting the Garden of Archimedes as it gave me the opportunity to explore the theories behind theorems, such as the Pythagoras theorem, in Maths. I genuinely believe that this visit has provided me with a great understanding and confidence for when I do Maths in the future!” Momin Gul

The next day was our final day and we took the tram out of the city to a museum of mathematics called the garden of Archimedes. With interactive exhibits students learned about curves such as circles, ellipses and parabolas come from a cone. Then they were astonished by the practical applications of these curves as they could hear another person whispering from over 15 meters away. Finally there was a treasure huntwhere students were split into teams and were sent clues for different locations across the city. The groups franticly searched throughout the city. One group rented bikes but it was Subayda’s team whose efficiency brought them victory.

Overall, our students showed independence, confidence and a willingness to get out of their comfort zone in a completely foreign environment. Most importantly they saw how mathematics has shaped out world. This the time and effort that goes into organising it worthwhile. I would say it was resounding success. Bring on Barcelona 2020!

Mr Skehel