Horse Manure

This task analyses a key prediction made during a historical environmental crisis: that the streets of London would be 9ft deep with horse manure within 50 years. Students research required data, make estimates and perform calculations to determine the reasonableness of the prediction. They also reflect on the process of mathematical modelling involved in the prediction, and the possible limitations of that process.

Mathematical Strand

Number and Measures

Prior knowledge

This task should be readily accessible to Core Maths students. The only prerequisites are the abilities to estimate, use scales and perform simple calculations including volume, mass and density.

Relevance to Core Maths Qualifications

  • AQA
  • C&G
  • Eduqas
  • Pearson/ Edexcel
  • OCR

Suggested approaches

This activity is well suited to a group work approach. Students could work in pairs or small groups to conduct the required research and carry out the calculations required to determine whether the prediction was reasonable.


The activity is described in more detail on the accompanying resource sheet. This sheet includes references to all the required information, as well as more detailed suggestions for running the activity in a Core Maths lesson. 

Relevant digital technologies

Students will need access to spreadsheets or calculators in order to perform the required calculations, and well as internet access if they are to conduct ‘live’ research as they work on the activity.

Possible extensions

Students could consider the limitations of the mathematical model that they have developed. Some suggestions are provided on the resource sheet.


This activity was developed by Claire Beckett.