From pop songs to code-breaking – the fascinating world of applied Mathematics

More than 60 Sixth-Formers headed off to the Institute of Education in London for an “inspiring” series of lectures on Maths in Action.

The day included a session with a senior examiner, who looked at common pitfalls in examinations and gave advice on developing good examination strategies.

Assistant Head of Mathematics Wendy Fung said: “Each lecture was inspiring in its own way and has encouraged the boys to delve deeper into the topics they found most engaging on the day.”

The boys, all from Year 12, found plenty to interest them, according to their particular interests.

""The lectures were:

  • Bad Stats: what they don’t tell you on the news, Michael Blastland, author and broadcaster
  • Mathematical models and the natural world, Dr Tom Ezard, University of Southampton
  • The hidden maths in pop music, Kyle Evans, ‘mathemusician’
  • Codes and code-breaking, Dr James Grime, mathematician and communicator
  • Con-sequence, Sara Santos, Mathematics communicator.

Andrew Shamis said: “I really enjoy watching Numberphile [a youtube channel featuring Dr Grime] so I was really pleased to hear James Grime speak about code-breaking.”

“The talk about statistics in the news was particularly eye-opening as we are so reliant on news reports for information,” said Aditya Gupta.

""And Vishva Vishnukumar added: “I really enjoyed the song performed by Kyle Evans. It was interesting to find out about the Maths involved in pop music.”

The day was organised by the Training Partnership, a provider of educational study days.

“These lectures are a very good way of introducing branches of Mathematics which are not covered as part of the A-level syllabus and of showing the range of applications to which the subject can be applied,” said Miss Fung.