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Maths and Mechanics at the Velodrome

Throughout the A level Further Mathematics course, Mr Lai has encouraged the application of maths and mechanics inside and outside the classroom, whether that be observing the elasticity of the rubber grip on a coat hanger, deriving the projectile motion of a golf ball or predicting the path of two colliding objects.

On the 12th February the upper sixth further mathematicians were gifted the opportunity to visit the Lee Valley Velodrome to apply their knowledge of circular motion and observe the effects of varying speeds when travelling around a banked turn. After a long train journey, we arrived outside the impressive engineered structure of the Olympic Lee Valley Velodrome.

The experience began with a brief and intimidating introduction from an instructor who informed the students of the 250m circular track and its 42° bends. In the first 20 minutes the students gradually gained confidence in riding their fixed wheeled bikes around the track. As time progressed so did the students; some even began to challenge themselves on the corners by attempting to turn faster and higher. Eventually the students were set free to test their new skills on their bikes, challenging one another.

Having gained confidence in cycling, the further mathematicians timed their laps with the aid of the slow-motion feature of Mr Lai’s camera. Using their lap times, the students were then able to calculate the forces they experienced whilst cycling around the banked turns.

The experience was thrilling and enjoyed by all further mathematicians; it was a great showcase of the applications of mathematics in sport and life beyond the textbook.

James (upper sixth)