Maths in Action
The Whole of Year 10 travelled to London on a very cold and snowy day to attend a GCSE Maths in Action Day. They listened to a variety of inspirational speakers from very different backgrounds; teachers, lecturers, mathematicians, a TV presenter and also a maths populariser and YouTube sensation. The aim of the day was to show how mathematics is embedded in all that we do, in ways we may never have thought of.
Some of the demonstrations were on topics that one might expect like code-breaking in WWII and how the Enigma code was broken. Although the girls found this topic interesting they were certainly more captivated by how that led to the discovery of passing and receiving information over the internet and messaging. They were especially impressed by the demonstration that drilled a hole in a CD to show that the information could still be read by the CD player and therefore the CD could be played as normal.
The girls had the opportunity to play games and discover how mathematics can be used to win games based on the ancient game of Nim. The mathematics behind the chances of winning in a game show were demonstrated and also how mathematics can be used in magic too. One of the sessions was aimed directly at how to study and revise for GCSE exams; some of the girls have already adopted one of the recommendations to create a mistakes book to try and eliminate repeating errors and learn from them instead.
Another presenter described the mathematics involved in the flow of chocolate in a chocolate fountain. Her study then led her to analyse the flow of food sauces and custard and the findings from this research have led to the improvement of bullet proof vests – who would have expected that!
Can we believe everything we read in the papers? This session showed how the media constantly misuse, misinterpret and abuse statistics in order to dramatise and create headline news. This opened the eyes of our girls to the potential pitfalls of listening to and acting upon sensational claims we see every day on TV and the internet. Understanding how data can be used to influence society is certainly something that will affect all of our lives in years to come.
The girls all agreed that the day had been incredibly beneficial and enjoyable!