Real World Mathematics

Real World Mathematics


United Kingdom


Final year Mathematics students from Coventry University were assigned in mixed groups of CU and Siberian Federal University (Russia) to produce posters on a range of ‘Real World Mathematics’ topics. The task enhanced students’ experience of working remotely as a team while applying alternative mathematical methods/models to topics of international relevance. Students developed skills on research, mathematical modelling and analysis, project management, negotiation, designing and presenting research posters for international conferences and workshops.

Aims of the project

1. Develop professional and academic skills relevant for designing and presenting research posters for international conferences and academic workshops with diverse audiences.

2. Understand and apply alternative mathematical methods/models to topics such as:

  • Butterfly effect for weather prediction
  • Magnus effect in football
  • Google Page rank algorithm
  • Periodic functions in music
  • Travelling Salesperson problem

Collaborative Activities

Research; mathematical modelling and analysis; project management; critical discussion, negotiation and decision-making; design and poster presentation.


January week 1

Launch Assignment Brief:

  • Students are assigned in mixed groups of CU and SibFU students.
  • OIL Leaders provide groups with detailed brief for the ‘Real World Mathematics’ poster assignment.
  • The brief includes aims, selection criteria for world issue/problem to be addressed, required content, expected level of mathematical knowledge and application, key milestones and deadlines, assessment and poster criteria.

January week 2

Group Formation: Students assign group names as well as group chairperson and secretary.

January week 3

Selecting a Global Topic:

  • Students must critically discuss, defend, negotiate and mutually decide the topic/issue to be addressed by their research and group poster.
  • Students must submit topic for approval by tutors.

February week 2

Stage One Progress: Students submit first progress report to tutors including research developments, challenges and evidence of interactions.

February week 4

Stage Two Progress: Students submit second progress report to tutors.

March week 2

Evidence, Reflection & Assessment:

  • Students print A1 posters.
  • Students submit evidence of meetings, logs, research, intercultural discussions and individual reflections to tutors.
  • Students present their posters in a conference-style simulation followed by questions from the panel and audience.

Interaction modes

Synchronous & asynchronous

Student outputs

Posters produced by two of the groups participating in the project:

  • Poster 4: The Magnus Effect (James Brindley, Ryan Meaden, Robert Naish, Daniel Vincent & Darya Karelina). Download poster as PDF.
  • Poster 8: Fractals in 3D Rendering (Shaun Smith, Freya Glover, Emma Newman & Alexander Cherapanskiy). Download poster as PDF.