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Dublin: 7 °C Thursday 24 April, 2014

Events add up to whole lot of fun for Maths Week

More than 100,000 people are taking part in Maths Week, which runs until 22 October and aims to show how beneficial maths is to all areas of life.

Image: Teo Romera via Flickr

A RANGE OF activities for families and children adds up to a great Maths Week this week.

This is is the sixth year of the event, and the amount of participants has surpassed last year – jumping from 86,000 to more than 100,000.

Maths Week is an all-island celebration of mathematics that runs from 15 October to 22 October and involves the partnership of almost 50 universities, institutes of technology, colleges, museums, libraries, visitor centres, and professional bodies.

Teachers and schools all over the country are involved and Maths Week was kicked off with a bang on Saturday when Maths in the City took place in Dublin, involving street theatre, maths music, magic puzzles and interactive demonstrations.

Eoin Gill, of CALMAST at Waterford Institute of Technology, who helped found the event six years ago, told TheJournal.ie:

We’re delighted – the enthusiasm and interest in maths seems to be limitless.

He said teachers are hugely interested in the event, which is the maths equivalent of an English teacher bringing their students to the theatre – taking the subject out of the classroom.

“I think it’s new ideas, new ways of doing things,” said Gill. “The teachers seem to be really interested in trying out new things and participating in new things.”

He started Maths Week as he was concerned about the attitude towards maths in Ireland and its implications for students and businesses.

Having been involved in promoting science and engineering for about 15 years, he realised:

If we don’t get our maths level up in the country there won’t be people going into science and engineering and the financial services and other areas. That’s been highlighted by people like Google and First Derivatives.

But, he added, there is more to maths than jobs.

Our idea is always [that] we’re not trying to promote jobs in maths – we’re trying to promote maths for all and those things will follow then if we change our attitude to maths.
In our culture we seem to sideline maths and science – it’s quite popular for people to say ‘I don’t know anything about maths’ – it’s nearly a boast. So it’s to counter that because that gives kids a very poor start. It’s very hard for them to achieve in maths if they are getting those negative messages.

Gill said that maths is beneficial because it trains people to think, to figure things out,  and to solve problems. “And that training of the mind can then be used in other areas of life.”

Some of the highlights this week include a talk by Matt Parker on Maths of the Simpsons, which will take place at Letterkenny IT today at 11.30am and Maths in the Pub with Dr Maths at the Khazbar Pub in Waterford on 19 October at 7.30pm.

There is also a free mathematical walking tour of Dublin, Dublin by Numbers, which you can download for free here on the Ingenious Ireland site.

Find a full list of events here.

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