It’s the biggest celebration of mathematics of its kind and schools, colleges, universities, shopping centres across Northern Ireland take part in Maths Week Ireland this week to promote the benefits of maths to pupils and the wider community.
The all-island event, supported locally by Northern Ireland science industry panel MATRIX through the Department for the Economy, promotes a positive image of mathematics and its applications in everyday life.
To date over 322,000 people have registered across the island of Ireland to participate in hundreds of events and organisers are hoping to make the 2018 event bigger and better than ever before.
Sheila Donegan, who co-founded Maths Week alongside Waterford Institute of Technology colleague Eoin Gill, says we should act now to give children the best possible start to a successful future career in STEM – an acronym for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
“Our children’s futures are reliant on a firm grounding in basic mathematics, so it’s important we promote a positive image and engage young people in maths-based activities in a fun learning environment from an early age,” she explains.
She emphasises the importance of promoting a positive “culture of mathematics” to provide encouragement for young people to help them realise their untapped potential.
“Mathematics is fundamental to our everyday lives. In everything we do, a highly-skilled technician, engineer, designer, researcher or other professional with a solid mathematical background has played a crucial role; consider the software engineers who write code for the mobile apps we use or the latest technology in our smart devices. We should promote a positive culture of mathematics to encourage our young people to pursue high-skilled roles in the STEM sector.”
She continued: “We are becoming an increasingly tech-focussed island, a sector seeing huge growth and investment north and south. Indeed, Northern Ireland has one of the highest proportions of cyber security specialists in Europe.”
But, mathematics plays an important role in all disciplines, including the creative industries.
“Mathematics is more than number-crunching. When planned appropriately it can be fun for young people. We need to counteract negative stereotypes, and though we would urge parents and teachers to encourage young people to pursue careers in STEM, this shouldn’t be at the expense of creativity.
“Our creative industries also have a strong mathematical foundation; a drummer or rhythm guitarist maintaining a consistent timed beat, a fine art photographer adjusting shutter speed, aperture and ISO to capture the perfect image, or the rule of thirds often used by visual artists in composition.”
A host of events are scheduled to take place across Northern Ireland during the week with event partners including Ulster University, Queen’s University Belfast, Stranmillis University College, W5, Armagh Planetarium.
In Derry~Londonderry events include Izak9 Maths in the City MATHQUEST in Foyleside Shopping Centre with a £500 prize awarded to the winner. Other events include a Maths with no Borders and Maths in the Parish both organised by the Izak9 maths team.
Maths presenters showcasing their maths work and skills locally include juggling scientist James Soper, Bubby Maths clown Caroline Ainslie, Enigma and the Secret World of Codes expert James Grimes and maths educator and puzzle challenger Doug Buchanan. Also taking part is Mark Saul, director of American founded Julia Robinson Festival of Maths who is teaming up with James Grime at Queen’s University on Friday 19 October.
On Saturday, October 20, mathematics-mania descends on Victoria Square with the anticipated ‘Maths in the City’ event. Free to the public, families, little ones and math-lovers of all ages are invited to the fun-filled afternoon to break from the hustle and bustle of city centre shopping to take part in a range of maths activities. Maths in the City at Victoria Square takes place from 11am to 5pm.
To register for Maths Week 2018 or for more information about events taking place during the week, visit www.mathsweek.ie.