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Maths & Beyond at Warwick University - a Student Review

Maths and Beyond is a Maths Inspiration day held annually at the University of Warwick.  The aim of the event is to inspire school students from Years 10, 11 & 12 to continue their study of Maths, Science and Engineering and to show the interesting ways that the subjects apply to the real world.  The day is split between a talk from a Keynote speaker and practical workshops that get the students involved.  Below is our Year 10 student's review of the day...

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On Wednesday 29th January, twelve eager Year 10 students went to Warwick University to participate in the Maths and Beyond Day.

The day consisted of four, one hour talks by a group of mathematicians as part of the Further Mathematics Support Program (FMSP) – dedicated to exposing the beauty of the field outside of the standardised school curriculum.

The first talk was Complex things from Simple Rules.  We were informed about the mapping of epidemics using the SIR model. From this, the speaker led a discussion about cellular automata including the ‘Game of Life’ by the famous mathematician John Conway.

Next on the agenda was Peg Solitaire. The speaker was very adamant that although Peg Solitaire appears to be just a normal game, it is entirely mathematical. As he explained, mathematics revolves around a notion that there is an end result but requires agile thinking to manipulate the position of variables in order to achieve this.

Social Networks combined the worlds of Mathematics and Computer Science. The speaker focused on the Six Degrees of Separation theory. Towards the latter half of his segment, the speaker incorporated popular culture, through the legendary actor Kevin Bacon, which kept the whole group engaged.

Most of us would agree that the organisers of the event saved the best for last. Ben Sparks from Bath University led the final session, The Sacred Geometry of Space (a lyric in Shape of My Heart by Sting). His approach to Mathematics was refreshing, relatable and riveting. He was very clear in conveying the true value of Mathematics through its links to other typically-unrelated subjects like Psychology, Music and Biology. Not only was his talk informative in many aspects, but his character was invaluable to the whole day. He broke all of our preconceptions surrounding Maths as field of study within an hour!

Naturally, we were all confused at different points of the day by the maths involved! Don’t be deceived however, this was a positive experience as it enabled us to persevere using our own knowledge and apply it to a different/unfamiliar context. This approach proved to be useful for the whole day and helped us realise that this can be applied elsewhere.

The Maths department at Warwick is highly respectable and its facilities left us all in awe. From the lecture hall to seminar rooms, the overall atmosphere was amazing! A mixture of excited whispers and gasps followed us throughout the day; the experience was definitely eye-opening. On behalf of everyone who went on this trip, I highly recommend this trip to anyone in KS3 who is interested.

Priscilla Neaupane, Year 10