Young mathematicians get a taste for Pi at UWE!

Issue date: 27 June 2005

Issue date: 27/06/05

150 budding young mathematicians from the South West will attend a specially organised Maths Events day hosted by the University of the West of England (UWE) on Wednesday 29 June.

The young people will take part in a series of workshops and activities given by academic staff from UWE and the University of Bristol, as well as hearing a special lecture by Simon Singh, author, journalist and television producer, and finding out about mathematics in the workplace directly from graduates on the job.

This is the third year that UWE has hosted this event and all secondary schools in Bath, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire were invited to send pupils.

Alison Hooper, Head of Mathematical Sciences at UWE who organised the day says, “We have more young people attending this year ever than ever before. The event aims to encourage AS level students currently studying mathematics to continue their course through to the full A-level. It also gives these students a chance, to find out about the different aspects of mathematics and see that it can be fun as well as useful and to consider studying a mathematics or statistics related degree at university.”

Maths graduates who have gone on to use their skills to work for companies such as BAE Systems, Airbus UK, Hewlett Packard and the Office of National Statistics will give short presentations about the important ways in which they use mathematics in their jobs and offer an insight into ‘real world’ applications of the subject. There will also be an opportunity to find out about career opportunities for graduates of mathematical subjects from the website

The guest lecture by Simon Singh will focus on the subject of his most recent book, ‘Big Bang’, a history of cosmology. Simon Singh completed a PhD in particle physics before joining the BBC. He has presented Mind Games on BBC 4, The Science of Secrecy on Channel 4 and Five Numbers on Radio 4. His first book, Fermat’s Last Theorem, became a number one bestseller, as did The Code Book – a history of codes and code-breaking.

Examples of some of the workshops on the day are:

Find ð (Pi)
How do people find ð? One unusual way is to use random numbers and the law of averages. This workshop uses statistical software (Minitab) to look at this and similar problems.

The Monty Hall Problem
You are faced with three doors, behind one of which is a brand new car. If you pick the right door the car is yours to keep. You are asked to pick a door but not open it. One of the remaining doors is opened but there is nothing behind it. Do you change your choice of door? Does it matter?

Logs and exponentials: What use are they?
Students are always asking ‘what’s the point of learning this?’ We look at situations where logs and exponential functions arise naturally. During the workshop, we will set up and run an experiment to measure the temperature of a cup of coffee and show how exponentials can be used to predict coffee temperature.

The Golden Ratio and other famous numbers
The golden ratio is just one of many numbers with particular mathematical interest. We will discuss ways of representing these numbers, including continued fractions.


Editor’s notes

The Maths Events Day is arranged by the Schools Liaison Group for Mathematics, chaired by the Head of Mathematics at UWE, Dr Alison Hooper. This year funding has been obtained from AimHigher in support of the event.

Schools participating are: Shaftesbury, St Katherines, Badminton, Monkton Combe, Churchill Community, Ridgeway, Brimsham Green, King Edmunds, Gordano, Redland High, Chipping Sodbury, Backwell, Filton College, Weston 6th Form, John Cabot, St Brendans.

The following companies will be participating on the day:
BAE Systems; Office of National Statistics (ONS); Airbus UK; Hewlett Packard;
Defence Analytical Services Agency (DASA).

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