BBC Two Learning Zone has produced a series of video maths challenges for Key Stages 1, 2 and 3. Developed with input from our NRICH project, 3, 2, 1, Go! sees real schoolchildren solve problems given to them by sporting heroes.

Key Stage 3 - Cycle Measuring Challenge

3, 2, 1, Go! is a sports-maths challenge show which reveals how important maths is to sport. Two cycling-mad Key Stage 3 schoolchildren are taken on a tour of the National Cycling Centre in Manchester. They meet world individual pursuit champion and Paralympic gold medallist Sarah Storey, and are set a maths challenge related to cycling.

The challenge is to find out how much further Sarah would cycle on a line further up the velodrome, rather than an inner line.

Possible uses in the classroom:

Set the scene and the show the clip, stopping just after the challenge is described. Ask the children to talk in pairs about how they think the boys will do the task, then share their ideas with the rest of the class.
What equipment will they need? What would their prediction be for the difference between the two tracks?

Show the remainder of the video sequence.

How did the boys’ method compare to the students’ own?
Could they have used another method or a short cut?

Draw a cycle track on the board.

How could we work out the length of one black line circuit of the track other than measuring it? (using the circumference of a whole circle and two straight sections)
What information do we need? (length of the straight sections, distance between the two straight sections in order to calculate the radius of the circle) and the formula for the circumference of a circle.

The students work in pairs to calculate the total length of one circuit on the black line.

How far apart do they estimate the black and red circuits were?

Using the new information, they calculate the length of the red line.

How much difference is there between the red and black? And how much for 12 circuits? Is there calculation of a similar order to the boys on the video?


Students could try our KS4 activity Track Design. Where should the staggered starting positions be marked for the 200m and 400m events on an Olympic running track?


On the floor mark out shapes made from semicircles and straight sections. Students who need support can work with a partner to calculate and then measure them using a trundle wheel to compare their answers.

Related resources:

  • Our KS4 activity Track Design asks students to work out where the staggered starting positions should be marked for the 200m and 400m events on an Olympic running track.
  • Cycling fans might also enjoy our KS3 activity Nutrition and Cycling. Can you analyse the nutritional needs of a long-distance cyclist to help him plan his calorie intake?
  • You can find out more about the building of the Velodrome, and how the geometry of the track design helps cyclists reach record-breaking speeds, in our articles Leaning into 2012 and How the Velodrome found its form.

Learning Outcomes - Numbers

KS3 curriculum:

[Ma2 1f] represent problems and solutions in algebraic or graphical forms…
[Ma2 1j] show step-by-step deductions in solving a problem; explain and justify how they arrived at a conclusion.
[Ma2 3a] add, subtract, multiply and divide integers and then any number…
[Ma3 2i] know and use the formulae for the area and circumference of a circle.

[Ma4 3a] …collect data using various methods including observation, controlled experiment, data logging, questionnaires and surveys.

Commissioned by BBC Two Learning Zone with advice from Lynne McClure (Director of NRICH, Millennium Mathematics Project, University of Cambridge), the clips were produced in collaboration with BBC Sport.