This morning, over 500 school children from 20 schools across Norfolk and Suffolk and Cambridgeshire gathered at the Open in Norwich for the second Michaelmas Mathematics Symposium. The event was organised by Norwich School and offered to year 10/11 and sixth form pupils to inspire, educate and broaden the horizons of GCSE and A Level mathematicians in Norfolk.
Pupils were treated to two lectures; the first of which was given by James Grimeon, a mathematician, speaker and maths populariser. His talk, Enigma and the secret world of code breaking, looked at the fascinating history and mathematics of codes and code breaking - from ancient Greece to the present day. He even brought along an original WWII Enigma Machine for participants to see.
The second engaging talk, How to spot naughty numbers in the news, was by Sir David John Spiegelhalter, OBE FRS. David is a British statistician and Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk in the Statistical Laboratory at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge. He demonstrated how statistics can be used to give weight to a story but can equally be abused through exaggeration and misunderstanding.
Norwich School’s Head of Mathematics, Simon Kirby, was delighted with the interest in the event. "We were originally inspired by similar events that happen nationwide but are tricky to attend for all schools in this area - so we thought we could and should do something about this. All schools in our local area are invited to our symposium, where two eminent speakers give talks on how Mathematics is used and can be used in understanding our lives around us. Attendance is free and this year we had over 500 pupils from around Norfolk and Suffolk, from Sheringham to East Bergholt and Hunstanton to Lowestoft. It was clear to see that the pupils got so much from it, being able to meet and discuss material with the lecturers being a particular highlight. It is excellent and rewarding for us to see that the engagement and demand for events like this is there and we plan to offer the third event next year.”
Below: Pupils from Benjamin Britten School with the WWII Enigma machine
Below: Head of Mathematics, Simon Kirby, with speaker, James Grime