Maths In The Real World

On Tuesday 28 November, 23 pupils in Year Ten went to Warwick University to listen to five lectures about the use of Mathematics in the real world. We started with a very interesting talk about how Maths is used to unlock the secrets of the digital world. This included an interesting segment, where Dr James Grime spoke about how Mathematics helped the allies win World War Two by breaking the Nazi code. After this, Roma Agrawal, a structural engineer who helped in the construction of The Shard, shared secrets about how triangles are better than rectangles when building skyscrapers and explained how Maths is crucial in large-scale projects. An extremely useful examination technique session followed before a lunch break, where students were free to explore the beautiful campus at Warwick.

In the afternoon, Dr Calvin Smith explained the ‘Monty Hall’ problem and how to win at game shows before Colin Wright showed us how binary can help us win 1v1 games, such as NIM and Avoid the Neighbour. The final lecture of the day was given by ‘Qi’ and YouTube star Steve Mould. He spoke about ‘Natural Genius’ and how the Fibonacci pattern gave pineapples and pine cones their unique shape and how, because of fractals, you can never accurately measure the coastline of Britain.

The highlight of the day came in the final talk, when Steve Mould spoke about how bees use a ‘waggle dance’ to communicate where succulent flowers can be located. Due to the compact nature of the honeycomb, and the fact it is vertical, bees use the waggle dance to show where the flowers are in relation to the sun. The length of time they ‘waggle’ shows how far away the flowers are from the hive. Steve then suggested a demonstration was in order and student, Will Osbourne, volunteered not knowing that he would be wearing a bee costume and performing the waggle dance in front of 700 people. Will showed great bravery and gave a great account of himself by performing the dance with much skill and accuracy! It was a great way to cap off a fun and extremely educational day. We would like to thank the five speakers, the University of Warwick for hosting us, and Mr Baker and Mr Scanlon for taking us on the trip.

Written by Max Houchin, Year Ten