Highlights of the
UKMT National Mathematics Summer School 2022
7th to 12th August, Leeds
1. Just being there – What a thrill and a privilege to be invited to attend the UKMT National Mathematics Summer School. An event attended by approximately 50 top mathematicians in the age group 14 to 16. Staff and students arrive on Sunday afternoon at the start of a week of Maths activities. It was great to meet everyone face to face after two years online. I felt a little nervous about the week but surely that was nothing compared to the students arriving on their own. I was immediately impressed by how well they all settle in. We were all assigned to groups named after famous mathematicians, I was pleased to be the staff member for Lovelace. An awesome team headed by the senior, Duncan.
2. Topics including modular arithmetic, Euclid’s algorithm, geometry, prove by induction… On the first morning we were introduced to an interesting pattern of reducing squares.
The aim of the week being for students to investigate, discover, question, reason & discuss we were encouraged to think how we would describe the pattern and whether we could explain it mathematically. Turns out Euclid’s algorithm is hidden here.
I appreciated the extra exposure to modular arithmetic which appears regularly in the mentoring worksheets. The method for checking square numbers was a revelation.
3. Slide Rule presentation I had the opportunity to spread the love of slide rules with a presentation to the seniors. I was surprised they had all come across them although they admitted to not knowing how they worked. Bletchley Park had kindly provided three slide rules for prizes which went to Rosie for ‘spotting the difference’, Annabel & Isabella for listing all my highlights and Isabella for giving an explanation of the gauge mark √(4/π). I appreciated Isabella’s enthusiasm who intends to learn more about her new slide rule and take it in to school and share it with her Maths teacher & class. Also good to know another slide rule has made it out of the dusty drawer with Louisa’s father finding his two. We found the manual & hopefully it will see some use.
4. The Mathemusical Extravaganza What a stunning performance on the last evening; music, dancing, comedy & theatrical sketches. The duets were a particular stand out for me. Sebastian & Rosie played ‘En Bateau’ by Debussy which they said was a new piece they had just learnt! Hebe & Gaurika sang & played on the guitar ‘Someone you loved’ by Lewis Capaldi. I had heard them practising in the boarding house & thought it was coming from Spotify. Rachel’s comedy about ‘Better late(Snape) than never’ was told with all of us gripped on the edge of our seats*. Georgia’s dancing, again choreographed during the week, was stunning. In the final ‘senior moment’ the sketch of two biologists observing ‘homomathematicians’ in the wild was so sensitively and comically performed. Duncan & Jonathan would make great future Attenboroughs. Well done to you all.
5. Farewells The final day, a session of mixed questions on topics from the week with the staff, providing feedback. My recent experience as a UKMT mentor helped. A final meal in the auspicious dining room (wooden plaques to numerous accolades) & then to the Hastings gallery for emotional farewells. Had these children only just met five days ago? The fondest of goodbyes suggested otherwise.
Thank you to Sue Cubbon & an inspirational staff team for making it all possible. And a special thank you to my course buddy, Alphie.
*If you selected the book ‘Letters to a Young Mathematician’ by Ian Stewart, you might like the joke on p171
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