How tall will I be when I grow up?

Many kids wish they had the answer - and at the New Scientist Live exhibition in London last weekend, they had a rare opportunity to find out.

Over the course of the four-day high-profile event, a team of researchers from the University of Bath predicted the adult height of hundreds of children - with varying degrees of delight in the results!

One girl did a lap of the stand in celebration when she found out that she was likely to be taller than her older sister – while a younger brother sulked on finding out that his big brother is likely to remain taller than him forever.

“It was great to see how the biobanding research conducted at the University of Bath, can have such an impact on kids and their families,” said Paul Shepherd, Deputy Director of the Institute for Mathematical Innovation (IMI). “It is certainly a first for me to spend my Saturday afternoon having a conversation about linear regression and confidence intervals with a nine-year-old!”

Teaming up with mathematical societies to promote mathematics and it's applications in areas such as youth sports.

The activity to predict children’s adult height was part of the hugely popular ‘Maths In The Real World’ stand, which was visited by thousands of children. IMI teamed up with six other mathematical societies from across the country to host the large stand which promoted the importance of mathematics for real-world applications.

IMI staff at the event (Paul Shepherd and Chris Budd) joined former IMI Secondee Dr Sean Cumming from the Department for Health and his PhD students Megan Hill, David Johnson and Tejal Patel. Together the team ran the interactive exhibit, which also promoted the use of biobanding in youth sports.

Dr Sean Cumming’s biobanding research, which explores the benefits of grouping children by physicality rather than age, uses statistical techniques to determine where a child is in their physical development. Using linear regression, Sean and his team are also able to predict a child’s future growth trajectory with a high level of certainty.

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