The mathematical sciences are an integral part of the educational system. Research and teaching go hand in hand; separating the two would significantly affect the vitality of the discipline. It is an aim of the Institute to enhance the interaction between the universities and the schools to help invigorate the study of mathematical and computational sciences amongst their students.
The partners already engage in outreach activities, for example Bangor University is currently running its 24th series of Mathematics Masterclasses in North West Wales which are attended by pupils from 21 schools. Cardiff has been running a Mathematics Club for talented sixth formers for many years. Cardiff and Swansea are involved with their local branches of the Maths Association that benefits local school teachers and pupils, Cardiff and Swansea also work with Techniquest and the Cardiff branches of the South Wales OR Discussion Society (SWORDS) and the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA) generate activities that bring together staff from universities and schools.
These activities are mutually beneficial, allowing the sharing of expertise, and developing an understanding for pupils, students teachers and academics across subjects thus invigorating the study of mathematics and computational sciences in all sectors.
For more information on educational outreach please contact Alison Braddock, Outreach Coordinator.
SUPPORT FOR STUDENTS (AND THEIR TEACHERS) TAKING GCE FURTHER MATHS IN WALES
In June 2010 the WIMCS proposal to organise the provision of resources and support for students and teachers studying and teaching Further Maths was approved by the Minister for Children, Education and Lifelong Learning. As a result £440k has been made available to WIMCS by the Welsh Government.
The model being followed is similar to the ongoing Further Maths Support Programme that has been highly successful in England and has demonstrably increased the number of students choosing to study Further Maths in the last 5 years.
ROADSHOWS FOR SCHOOLS - 'MATHS ON TOUR' PROJECT
WIMCS has secured funding of £100,000 from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) for a £132,000 initiative designed to promote mathematics to secondary school children in Wales. The Maths on Tour project-is a collaboration between WIMCS and the universities of Swansea, Cardiff, Bangor and Aberystwyth.
The project involved the development and delivery of two road shows aimed at 12-14 year olds (years 8 and 9) and 14-16 year olds (GCSE), and a training programme which will equip university researchers and academics from across Wales with the skills to present elements of the road shows. The principal contractor working with the team is science made simple (sms), an award winning science communication company based at Cardiff University. The roadshows have now been piloted, and are being taken to schools across Wales.
The roads shows have been designed to appeal to children and young people interested in a broad range of topics, and not just to those who excel at maths, with the aim of demonstrating that mathematics can be both interesting and useful when applied to real-life situations. Broad themes are used to illustrate how maths learnt in the classroom is employed in the world today including computer gaming, sport, money and communication.
‘mathsapps’, the road show aimed at pupils in years 8 and 9, highlights the range of careers available to those who choose maths at a higher level of study. Short films introduce role models who use mathematics in different ways and showcase why they chose their jobs and how maths helps.
‘I’ve got your number’, the second road show, aimed at GCSE students, is based on a game show approach to help illustrate how mathematics can be used to judge information, including stories from the media and advertising, that the students will come across in everyday life.
The project follows findings, within The Royal Society ‘State of the Nation’ report 2008, that highlighted less positive attitudes to science and mathematics at the end of Key Stage 4 (GCSE) than earlier on, and suggested that these attitudes may affect subsequent subject and career choices.
Science made simple specialises in the development of interactive science presentations for schools and public groups, on a variety of topics and to a wide range of age groups and audience types. The company was awarded the EU Descartes Prize in 2007 for its science communication work with hard to reach teenage audiences and for its innovative approaches to inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers. http://www.sciencemadesimple.co.uk/.
THE BIG BANG FAIR WALES
The 28th June 2012 is a date you won’t want to miss, because the Big Bang Cymru is on at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea and it’s going to bigger and more explosive than ever. This is a free event for young people led by Engineering U.K. in partnership with the British Science Association and project managed by Careers Wales. We want to enthuse, motivate and educate young people about opportunities in STEM, inspiring them to carry on with their STEM studies and follow careers in this rewarding field.
Schools and colleges from all over Wales will be invited to take part in the National Science and Engineering competition. For learners engaged in the CREST award scheme or running a Young Engineers for Britain programme their final competition will take place at the event. Our younger learners will compete in the national K’NEX challenge and STEM clubs are welcome to exhibit their projects and motivate others to get involved. Learners and their teachers will be able to take part in a wide range of exciting STEM workshops and shows. It’s going to be a fast moving, fun packed day so come and join us.
The first Big Bang Fair Wales took place on 6th July 2010 at the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea. The competition element of the event was open to 11-18 year olds in Wales who have completed a project or activity in any field of science, technology, engineering or mathematics. A huge range of projects were showcased and the winner was invited to the U.K. national Big Bang Fair in 2011.
WIMCS ANNUAL LECTURES
Bloodhound SSC - The Adventure Begins
On October 7th 2009, key members of the Bloodhound team (www.bloodhoundssc.com) gave a lecture explaining the importance of mathematics and science focussing on the themes of aerodynamics and computational modellng for which the School of Engineering at Swansea University is of worldwide renown. In particular, it highlighted topics such as simultaneous equations, forces, moments and basic gas relationships describing how an understanding of these will help the Bloodhound team keep the car safely pinned to the ground even at 1000mph! The Bloodhound Project is an exciting British engineering adventure that seeks to create a new world land speed record taking a car up to speeds of 1000 mph by 2011. But, most importantly, its ultimate goal is to inspire a new generation of engineers, mathematicians and scientists.
This free event was aimed at year 12 students of mathematics, physics and engineering.
"Thinking machines" - Is this the future?
Paul Curzon, Peter McOwan and Jonathan Black of cs4fn, Queen Mary, University of London, gave the Wales Institute of Mathematical and Computational Sciences (WIMCS) Annual Lectures for 2009 in June at three Welsh universities. Support for the lectures came from EPSRC and Google. cs4fn is a website and magazine created, written and edited by Paul Curzon and Peter McOwan of the School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science of Queen Mary, University of London with the aim of sharing their passion about all things to do with Computer Science www.cs4fn.org). Many people and companies from the IT industry support cs4fn, including Google, ARM and Microsoft.
The free lectures for Year 10 pupils, entitled The mind of the machine : Artificial Intelligence? took place at Cardiff University on Tuesday 2nd June, Aberystwyth University on June 3rd, and Bangor University on June 4th. Some of the lectures were accompanied by a workshop for a smaller number of pupils. There was also a careers information event at each university supported by Careers Wales.
We all know the movie plot, evil robots and computers taking over the world, but what is the reality? The lecture looks at artificial intelligence research, the field of science that tries to build “thinking machines”. How are they built? What can they do? And as importantly what can’t they do? The talk covers topics ranging across computer science, electronic engineering, psychology, philosophy and biology. It gives a taste of how modern science cuts across different subjects.
Johnny Ball presents Mathematical challenge to Welsh pupils
From Wednesday 25th to Friday 27th June 2008, Johnny Ball - the well known BBC Children's TV presenter and writer of 'funtastic' mathematics - gave the inaugural WIMCS Annual Lectures at four Welsh Universities: Aberystwyth, Bangor, Cardiff and Swansea. Pupils from years 10, 11 and 12 from schools across Wales attended the lecture entitled Wobbling on the Shoulders of Giants. The lecture was accompanied by a masterclass and a mathematics challenge competition with prizes ranging from iPod Nanos to book tokens for the winning teams. Many schools entered teams into the mathematics challenge competition and according to Professor Aubrey Truman, Head of Mathematics at Swansea University, the quality of entries was outstanding. The prizes for this year’s lectures were sponsored by the Admiral Group plc, Blackwell, HBOS plc, and Waterstones.
Johnny gave an entertaining insight into how the Egyptians wove beautiful mathematics into the building of their pyramids, how Galileo explored parabolic curves by studying the path of a cannon ball and how Archimedes worked out the volume of a sphere. With interesting props, audience interaction and musical interludes, Johnny gave a very positive message to young people on the future of science and mathematics and on how anyone with an aptitude could play a part in discovering novel solutions.
Professor Terry Lyons, FRS, FRSE, Director of the Wales Institute of Mathematical and Computational Sciences, said: “Our Annual Lectures series and associated activities are part of the Institute’s programme for educational outreach in Wales, which aims to inspire future generations of researchers in the mathematical and computational sciences.
Are you interested in becoming a STEM Ambassador in a primary or secondary school? Since the programme started in 2002, Science and Engineering Ambassadors have taken part in about 24,000 volunteer activities and worked alongside more than 750.000 pupils aged from 5 - 19. Typical activities include supporting Science and Engineering clubs, helping with STEM competitions and awards, and offering mentoring, careers advice and acting as a role model. The scheme is open to all professionals working in science, engineering, mathematics, statistics, operational research and the computational sciences.
For more information follow this link.