Dereham Neatherd pupils’ award-winning animation shows a fun side to maths

A Dereham school girl's cartoon explaining an often perplexing mathematical theory has won a top award.

Emily Wolfenden, who attends Neatherd High School, used the national UK Schools Computer Animation Competition 2011 to produce a one-minute film about Pythagoras' Theorem.

The 14-year-old schoolgirl said: 'It teaches a younger audience – pupils in year seven and eight – about the theorem by way of a cartoon and diagrams. A lot of people tend to struggle with the subject.'

While the mathematical equation – which links together the lengths of the three sides of a right-angled triangle – can often seem dry to pupils sitting in their lessons, Emily wanted to make it more appealing to youngsters.

The cartoon explains the origin of the theorem as well as the equation itself. During the animation, a cartoon Pythagoras – sporting a fetching toga – pops up on the screen as Emily's voiceover explains: 'It started with this Greek fella called Pythagoras. He's a really good mathematician, as you will see.'

The teenager, who lives in Dereham, said she found lip-synching her voice with an animated triangle the most difficult.

But judges of the Animation 2011 contest, run by Manchester University, were clearly impressed with the product and have shortlisted her for an award.

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On July 1, Emily will travel to Manchester with her parents where she will be presented with a winner, runner-up, highly commended or another award.

It was the second time she had entered the competition, which pupils in Neatherd High's STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) club were encouraged to take part in by maths teacher Jason Chapman.

Emily said: 'It really was a shock when I found out I had been shortlisted.'

Mr Chapman said he was delighted for Emily and had his fingers crossed for next months' ceremony.

To see Emily's Pythagoras' Theorem animation, visit

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