Maths Week Ireland goes virtual to help people 'rethink maths'

  • Photo: Irish Ladies Hockey captain Katie Mullan is proud to be a maths ambassador

    Maths Week Ireland has been ongoing this week, offering a range of virtual events targeted at primary and secondary school audiences.

    The initiative has grown to be the biggest festival of its type in the world and is now replicated in Scotland and England.

    It aims to promote and develop a positive attitude towards maths in young people, and a wider awareness of the importance of maths across all sectors of society. Cross-community and cross-border participation is an important part of Maths Week.

    This year’s event is backed by Irish Ladies Hockey captain and Coleraine girl, Katie Mullan. A self- confessed ‘maths fan’ the subject forms a large part of her day job as a biomedical engineer.

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    Katie said: “I love maths and studied it to A Level, and it was a large part of my mechanical engineering degree and my Masters in biomedical engineering. I would encourage more people and especially girls to stick with maths and look at the many career opportunities it offers.

    “Maths skills are a key part of running our everyday lives and are also a key driver of future skills and jobs – now more important than ever given the impact of the global pandemic.”

    “I’m thrilled to be a Maths Week ambassador and urge pupils, teachers, parents and the public in general to check out the website, mathsweek.ie and take part in the many activities online and the pop-up maths trails in Belfast’s Botanic Gardens and on the walls of Derry~Londonderry.”

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    Now in its 15th year, the 2020 celebration looks a little different with health restrictions meaning few physical events can take place. However, online events have instead been ongoing, including a family scavenger hunt and the new ‘MathsWeekTV’.

    Presenters include popular British TV presenter and Maths teacher, Bobby Seagull. He is a regular contributor to Radio Four’s Puzzle for Today, a columnist for the Financial Times and co-presented a BBC TV series, Monkman & Seagull’s Genius Guide to Britain.

    Other presenters include author Kjartan Poskitt, who has sold over five million ‘Murderous Maths’ books, Ken Farquhar, one of Britain's leading STEM presenters and Caroline Ainslie, who is a co-organiser of the Global STEAM Lesson.

    She aims to teach the mathematical fundamentals of shape, space and measurement with the use of soap bubbles and giant balloons.

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    Being online means Maths Week can bring YouTube star Tom Crawford from Oxford or “Mathematician at Large” James Tanton into schools across the island from his base in Arizona.

    Eoin Gill, co-founder of Maths Week Ireland, said, “This year we face challenges across the globe, and we could have cancelled Maths Week. However, with the disruption to young people’s education, Maths Week is needed more than ever to motivate and encourage pupils. Therefore, we are ensuring that we deliver a blended online and real-world festival for Maths Week 2020.

    “We reached over 400,000 people last year and without face-to-face events we don’t know what the engagement will be this year, but online delivery ensures that everyone on the island can be involved. We are really excited about the programme of events on offer and the opportunity to bring the message of Maths Week to people across the island of Ireland.”

    Check out https://www.mathsweek.ie/2020/ for more information on all things Maths Week Ireland.

    About the author

    Niamh is a Sync NI writer with a previous background of working in FinTech and financial crime. She has a special interest in sports and emerging technologies. To connect with Niamh, feel free to send her an email or connect on Twitter.

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