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How long is a piece of string? Year 10 mathematicians at Herts University

Monday 20 January 2014

On 15 January 2014, six Year 10mathematicians attended an Enrichment Event at the University of Hertfordshire.
The day consisted of a series of talks from inspirational speakers, which
challenged the girls to use their mathematical knowledge, and provided them
with an opportunity to extend their understanding of the subject.  

The day began with the idea of Complexity being
introduced to the students. They learned how this relatively new aspect of
Maths and Science relates to why we clap in sync when in a group, why birds fly
in a flock in the same direction at the same speed, and many other facets of
daily life.  

The groups then rotated around three
shorter talks. The first introduced the girls to the methods used to measure
the exact length of a piece of string, which they applied to finding the length
of the coastline of Australia. Next, the girls discovered how to “zequalise” –
a method which allows you to answer any question within a matter of seconds, by
rounding all numbers to 1 significant figure before carrying out any operation
and also rounding your answer. The last of these talks discussed the question
“how high will the ball bounce?” and the concepts of the conservation of
energy, kinetic energy and potential energy and the conservation of momentum
were explored.  

A favourite of the girls was a talk  about “The Maths of Games” in which we
discovered the Mathematics involved in the strategies used to win, or maximise
your winnings, in games such as noughts and crosses, Monopoly and The Weakest