In response to a request from The Institute of Mathematics and Its Applications, Quintessa sent a representative to Little Heath School in Tilehurst, Reading for a careers day aimed at students in year 9.
We were one of many companies to take up this exciting offer, in our case to help the students see the value of the science they were only starting to get a glimpse of. To that end, armed with logic puzzles, maths booklets and most importantly, chocolate, our placement student Gilly Ames set out to see what the students thought of maths, and to tell them about life at Quintessa.
The response was great; lots of students were happy to get involved with a glimpse of sugary reward just over the horizon, and once they had begun to get engaged in the logical thinking exercises set out, they had a brief explanation of how mathematical software can help companies make important decisions, and how our knowledge of mathematics, computing and physics helps us to accomplish this.
Students also saw a selection of mathematical magic tricks and mini projects such as the anti-gravity cone (a simple introduction to the concept of a centre of gravity) and pop-up dodecahedron (just for fun). Some went away with a booklet which gave them some insight into mathematics beyond GCSE. It introduced concepts of proof and derivation, with logical deduction and problem solving stressed above all to be the heart of mathematics. Thanks go to Ian Stewart for allowing the reproduction of some of the content of his book- “Professor Stewart’s Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities”.
In summary; the event was lively, friendly and well organised, the students were engaging and enthusiastic and it is our sincere hope that one or two may realise maths doesn’t have to be so boring after all.