Magic numbers

GDST students gathered in Oxford for the GDST’s Junior Maths Conference.

More than 120 junior school girls came together at Oxford University’s Maths Institute – the building itself is a marvel of mathematical architecture – for a day of collaborative problem solving and complex data handling based on the theme of ‘Data – the fabric of the modern world’.

Will Wareing, Deputy Director of Education at the GDST, explained the motivation behind the day’s event: “We are really trying to get the girls to expand their mathematical horizons, and think of maths as something that has an impact on all of our lives rather than just being about relatively narrow elements such as number and space.”

Nick Tiley Nunn, Head of Prep at Norwich High, inspired the girls in his keynote speech, telling the audience how Florence Nightingale had used data and ‘infographics’ to change the treatment of the wounded in the Crimean War.

The girls then worked in teams that mixed students from different schools. Their task was to take a data set – in this instance a survey of Year 6 students about their environmental concerns – and render it via an app or iPad into a powerful infographic.

At lunchtime, the students were treated to an access all areas tour of the Mathematical Institute building, aided and abetted at all times by Oxford High Sixth Formers, who told the girls about their own A Level maths experiences.

Maddy Bayes, Head of Mathematics at Nottingham Girls’ High School said: “The girls came away really buzzing from this experience – I will be delighted to have even more girls studying Maths and Further Maths and going on to have careers in Mathematics in years to come.” A Portsmouth High Prep parent said: “My daughter has been truly inspired and hasn’t stopped talking about how amazing everything was… thank you for such an amazing opportunity.”