Maths Week: Renaissance Reflections

Why is maths important for children?

Well, I think that maths is important for children because it is essentially everything. There’s a wonderful quote by Galileo Galilei, a Renaissance scientist, that ‘Maths is the language in which God wrote the universe.’ The idea is that everything can be interpreted through mathematics, and that it is how we understand the world around us. So whilst it is important in its own right as a subject, it also runs through everything else; this is what we are trying to emphasize with STEAM as well: the fact that science, technology, engineering and art are all connected to maths. So by understanding maths, you can get a better understanding of the world around you.

What events took place during the Maths Week?

Many events took place in lessons. During Key Stage Three Maths lessons, Mr Williamson taught exciting lessons on the Golden Ratio, which is connected to the Fibonacci series. The students were able to connect their mathematical understanding to artistic projects, which they are going to continue to do in art next week. We did the Da Vinci Flying machines, which you’ve seen in the assembly last week; we also built some examples of Italian Renaissance architecture, including models of The Leaning Tower of Pisa. Mr Hewitt actually came up with something called the Buffoon’s Needle, which allows you to estimate π just by throwing chopsticks. Also we looked at cryptography, which is cracking codes, and problem solving.

So, give me three reasons why people should love maths.

WHY?! (Laughs) I think that by understanding maths, you understand the world. If you’ve got a natural curiosity for the world, which I hope most young people in this school do, and you have an intellectual thirst for knowledge, then maths is one of the best ways of exploring your interest, and truly finding out about the world. What is better in life than finding out about things that matter? Hopefully you can all relate the numbers and algebra on a piece of paper to real things. I think maths is only relevant if we can adapt it and contextualise it to the real world. If you sat in a room just doing sums, naturally, some people are good at it and some people are less good at it, and some people are going to like it more than others, but if we can then apply that to the real world, for example, because of these equations we can fly a plane, or we can predict the electron or run a computer, then we can see why maths is important.

Finally, what advice do you have for students who love maths or students who are considering a career in mathematics?

I’d say try and do as many different types of maths as you can. Because I think that the way to be good at maths is to do different things and stretch yourself. Move out of your comfort zone; do all kinds of ma

ths, from statistics, decision maths, mechanics, to computer programming and applied maths. Join maths clubs, do the UKMT test, all these sorts of things. Do as much as you can. You will find some areas difficult, and that’s great, because by making those mistakes you can become good. So, be brave, and try and do as much as you can! Also, if you are considering studying mathematics at sixth form, start to ask yourself about the different career paths that you can follow. I know that many students at this school want to study maths because they want to go into engineering, which is a good career path, but there are many other interesting and rewarding options, so keep your options open.