UP FOR A CHALLENGE In March we visited Aston University for an educational event that would broaden our mathematical perception and allow us to explore different avenues within mathematics. This event was split over two days and here is the summary… The first day was great with us messing around with shapes and defining algebra as an essential translating language in mathematics. We started off the day by attempting a mathematical crossword (or number) puzzle which integrated all types of numbers from perfect to triangular and factors to multiples. Then the first of four people had to try and explain to us their love of maths. We began with a series of complex problems that could be solved easily with clever implementation of algebra. We were taught how we needed to use algebra as a “mathematical language” and translate the problem through its means. After a short break we explored how problem solving becomes much easier when the same problem can be explored in different ways. We were given four different problems like Dyck Paths and Mountain Making which had the same solutions. On inspection we saw how those seemingly different problems were the same! We then moved on to the second part of the day which focused on geometry. We explored unique shapes like the Reuleaux Triangle and discovered how these shapes are able to maintain the same width all around with the exception of a non-fixed centre. This was followed by the last activity on how shapes are related almost in a family tree – a rectangle can be a square, but a square cannot be a rectangle. By exploring several different properties of quadrilaterals, we were able to seek out these connections which are usually overlooked in the school curriculum. The first day really unlocked some of the ideas around mathematical interpretations and set us up for a whole new day to follow! Another day of exploration. This day was going to include a lot more puzzling uses of mathematics. As a starter, we were given a code-cracking task, where each letter represented another. Our first thought was to spot repeated letters or groups of letters, which corresponded to other common letters. Through this, we were able to figure out the code representative for “THE”, which allowed us to complete much more of the code. Five minutes, and a load of trial and error later, we managed to crack the code. Our next task was to come up with the largest possible number that could be written on paper in two minutes. The lecturer acknowledged a variety of methods we could have used, ranking them, with the most efficient using iterations. After break, we moved on to the midpoint theorem. Using the information obtained from the previous day, we proved a list of geometric statements, through the means of logic and angle rules. The next activity was probably the most exciting, where we explored how Tetris pieces, Candy Crush and hydrocarbon molecules were all linked. This was because of the finite ways of connecting a certain number of items. The final task was calculating the amount of ways to travel from one grid square to another, being limited to moving just right and down. To wrap the day up, we filled in feedback sheets and gave a round of applause to everyone. Overall our perspective on this subject has widened, exploring the multiple ways maths is used in day-to-day life as well as more theoretical ideas. We would like to take this opportunity to thank the Maths department and especially Ms Drage for arranging this great trip and for a wonderful learning experience. Thank you! Jasbinderbir Singh & Yusuf Sakhawat 18