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Old 10-20-2005, 10:51 AM
DW Simpson DW Simpson is offline
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Default UK HS students learn probability through horse racing, auto racing & actuaries

Learning the odds


20 October 2005 10:30

Hanging around the bookies' may not be every parent's idea of education but maths students from a Norfolk school are under starter's orders to do just that.

Twenty-five sixth-formers from Smithdon High School are visiting Fakenham Racecourse on Friday for the full SP.

They'll be studying the odds to find out what coursegoers have debated down the centuries - whether the punters or the bookies come out on top.

Stuart Bagnall, head of maths at Smithdon, said: "We aim to show that mathematics is used in many different fields.

"The trip to Fakenham is the first of many planned activities to bring students into contact with people who use mathematics as part of their profession.

"I've always had a keen interest in horse racing and Fakenham is one of my favourite courses in the UK.

"Not only will students experience, first hand, a day at the races, complete with excitement, action and fresh air, but they will also see, through their mathematical calculations, who the real winners in the betting industry are."

A spokesman for high street bookies' chain William Hill said: "We've never heard of a school party doing anything like this - good luck to them.

"I don't know how you can work out the statistical possibility. There are a lot of people out there who have spent their whole lives trying to dream up the perfect system."

A spokesman for Coral added: "People have been trying to work betting out for many years - statistics don't help you find the winners.

"We're bookmakers and the idea is we make a book to ensure we guarantee ourselves a profit.

"Well, that's the theory; it doesn't always work out like that but over time the bookies always win."

Steve Varey, education officer with the British Horse Racing Education and Standards Trust, said: "Smithdon School were very interested in doing some work connected to the racing industry. They're going to get some data together which help to understand the probability of picking a winner."

David Hunter, course manager at Fakenham, said: "They're going to be coming to the race meeting - under the control of their teacher - looking at betting, how the Tote works and things like that.

"A lot of them haven't been horse racing before. Being budding mathematicians, they'll see how the bookmakers make their books work."

Friday sees the first meeting of the season at Fakenham, which is being called the Trafalgar Weekend Raceday.

"I think it particularly fitting that we should be racing on the 200th anniversary of Lord Nelson's death and The Battle of Trafalgar," said Mr Hunter.

"Nelson was born at Burnham Thorpe, which is only 15 miles away, and if there had been National Hunt racing at Fakenham in his day, perhaps he might have been a jockey rather than a sailor. After all, he was the right size."

Future events planned for the maths students include a visit from an actuary, who will explain how insurance policies and pensions are calculated.

They will also be studying the way the finances of Formula One work.
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Old 10-20-2005, 01:01 PM
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wooHoo wooHoo is offline
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For the november social event, we are going to the dog track here.
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