Building Bridges with Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Blog: Niall Shannon, Secondary Development Lead

Building Bridges with Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Posted: 7/07/15

Collaboration is at the heart of the Mathematics Mastery approach. We witness it every day between our staff, our schools and our partners and between others working in education. 

On the 24th of June we witnessed an exciting and different kind of collaboration between our new corporate partners, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and one of our earliest school partners, Bolingbroke Academy.

Building Bridges

A group of Year 9 students, selected to reward their work ethic and commitment this year, arrived at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch London Offices to be greeted by a team of staff volunteers and split into teams.  Each team had the same task – to build a bridge.  But this being Mathematics Mastery, it couldn’t just be any bridge, it had to also satisfy some strict criteria, and the teams gained extra credit for their use of mathematical language, their ability to work as a team and the aesthetics of their design.  Not only this, but the teams had only 40 minutes to complete their bridge. (To put this in context the Mathematics Mastery team had taken over an hour to complete their own attempt days before!)


Well-versed in group work, the Bolingbroke students started by discussing the task with the volunteers and deciding how best to proceed.  One impressed volunteer commented that “It started off with lots of individual ideas, but everyone came together and managed to build really good bridges”.  The stakes were high with a judging panel consisting of Ian Wace, Chairman of Ark and Martina Slowey, Head of International Prime Brokerage at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

And the winner is…

After much deliberation the winners were announced as group 3 with an impressive asymmetrical design, complemented by a “horse” made out of left over bits.  Group 1 thought they might have clinched it with a last minute discovery of an irregular dodecagon in their bridge, whilst group 2’s bridge seemed to be the most structurally sound and group 4 demonstrated the most impressive teamwork.


Of course this event was more about building metaphorical bridges, both to support the ongoing partnership between Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Mathematics Mastery and Ark, and to develop lasting, impactful relationships between volunteers from Bank of America Merrill Lynch and the Ark schools network.  It was also an opportunity for the Bolingbroke Academy students to see first-hand how a strong foundation in maths can enhance their future career prospects.  One Bolingbroke student commented that “we got to meet intelligent people and learn from them”, whilst another said “the volunteers were really fun and they took our ideas seriously”.

We’re really proud and excited that our partnership with Bank of America Merrill Lynch will result in many more opportunities like this, whilst also helping us reach an additional 500 schools, and over 300 000 students across the UK.  The Mathematics Mastery team would like to express our gratitude to all involved from Ark, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Bolingbroke Academy for making this event possible – we look forward to collaborating again soon.

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