20 November 2020

Abingdon School celebrated Maths Week England by encouraging students from all years to participate in exciting activities provided by the Maths Department.

Mr Williams’ tutor group tackled the world of Decision Maths through Mr Cook’s perplexing problem to find the most efficient route around the area of Norfolk. This was a problem that seemed simple at first but it soon became apparent that there were more solutions than those which first met the eye! Freddie Nicholson in the Upper Sixth wrote a program during the Easter holidays to help make the challenge more interactive and proved that the best route found by hand – with 87 eggs collected in a round trip – was indeed the most effective. You can find the full instructions here before having a go. A group of Upper Sixth students also designed a crossnumber puzzle which was included in the tutor group activities.

Several boys in the Fourth Year produced short video documentaries on their favourite unsung heroes of Mathematics, championing individuals who weren’t fully recognised for their efforts at the time, submitting these to the Maths Week England judging committee for the Katherine Johnson prize. Katherine Johnson died earlier this year; her calculations were instrumental in allowing humans to first step on the Moon. Amongst the finest presentations were those produced by Sammy Jarvis and Tim Fowler, who both described Joan Clarke’s activities at Bletchley Park; Philip Kimber, on Emmy Noether; Timmy Wong, on Katherine Johnson; Jack Rickman on Annie Easley; and Archie Leishman on Sofya Kovalevskaya.

Throughout the week, Maths Week England hosted several online lectures over Zoom designed for all year groups. Some of the A-Level Topics included a fascinating talk on the history of Pi, limits and different types of numbers. Towards the end of the week, members of the maths enrichment club on Friday afternoon were treated to a lecture explaining an interesting investigation on triangles formed out of black or white dots. Starting by defining just 4 functions the speaker Johnny Griffiths made conjectures about the pattern of dots formed, bringing together multiple different areas of mathematics including binary representation and Pascal’s triangle, before ultimately providing rigorous proofs of each.


All in all, it has been a very successful and enjoyable week bringing together the whole school through the medium of maths in these unprecedented times. Of course, the fun goes on: next week, the Sixth Form Maths Enrichment group look forward to discussing the mathematics of mask-wearing in relation to slowing the spread of COVID-19.

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