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Ivybridge Community College

Ivybridge Community College

Ivybridge Community College

What is the Mathematical Answer to Social Distancing?

 Ivybridge Community College Year 7 student, Dylan, tasked himself with finding the answer to the above question.  His calculations show an inquisitive mind and a real enthusiasm for Mathematics.



‘If all the students at Ivybridge Community College were to shake hands with each other, assuming each handshake happened one after the other and lasted one second, how long would it take?’

‘If all the students at Ivybridge Community College stood in a circle taking up one metre each, how wide would the circle be?’

These were the two questions that inspired Dylan in his first Mathematics lesson at Ivybridge Community College, when his new class stood outside in the sunshine and introduced themselves to each other.  Ten months later, in lockdown, Dylan has been extending these ideas to consider how big the College would need to be to allow ‘social distancing’ for him and his classmates to return to College. Here is his work:


The Bare Minimum Social Distancing for Ivybridge Community College

A close up of a whiteboardDescription automatically generatedMethod 1: There are  pupils attending the College according to the Ofsted report.   Each person would need a 4 metre squared box.

I then scaled that up for  pupils (with help from a calculator) and found it would require  .

Method 2: For this method I put everyone in 2 metre diameter circles and ignored the spaces in between I then found the radius (1) and squared it (still one) before times it by pie to get the area of 3.14159 metre squared (pie what a shock!). Then I just scaled it up for 2,448 pupils to get an area of  converted to km squared is 7690

The best way would be to imagine each student stood in a circle with a diameter of 2 metres.  If we could get 9 students in each classroom this way we would need

A boy using a computer sitting on top of a tableDescription automatically generatedBut we probably need teachers back too – so how would that affect the numbers?!!

If you want to have a go at calculating the questions at the top of this article email your Mathematics teacher or Miss Pyne with your workings to have them checked.