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Posted: 10 April 2006

Maths and the world around us

With the help of the UCD School of Mathematical Sciences, ninety secondary school students recently explored the practical applications of mathematics by participating in a series of workshops on the Belfield campus.

The three-day Mathematical Modelling Workshop covered a series of topics, from astrophysics to finance; communications to meteorology. Young conspiracy theorists were able to discover the secrets behind the Da Vinci Code in a workshop of the same name, and budding financiers could participate in one entitled ‘Mathematical Finance: How ants, hayfever and miniskirts can help you beat the market’.

Students pictured at the workshop
Students pictured at the workshop

But edification and promoting interest in mathematics were not the only results of the exercise. The students, all in Transition Year, were able to get a feel for the UCD campus and a glimpse of the college life that awaits them. One student said:

“It was a great experience – it made me feel a lot better about college life. I was a bit worried about how I’d cope but I’ve been put at ease. I’m glad I took part because it’s so worthwhile – whether you want to find out more about maths or seeing college.”

The event underlines the strategic vision of the UCD School of Mathematical Sciences, which is to strengthen links with secondary schools and to establish a network of support for secondary school maths teachers.

The UCD School of Mathematical Sciences hoped that the workshops would illustrate the central role that mathematics plays in the world around us. Their work to promote the study of mathematics as both a practical and an academic discipline paid off. In the words of another student:

“It has broadened my horizons and made me realise how much more there is to maths than what we learn in the classroom.”

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