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Particularly mathematical New Years Honours 2013

The New Year Honours list 2013 was published today. Here we note those awarded in relation to mathematics. Are there any others I’ve missed? Please enlighten us in the comments.

  • Prof. Frank Kelly FRS, Professor of the Mathematics of Systems in the Statistical Laboratory, University of Cambridge and Chair of the Council for the Mathematical Sciences; CBE “for services to Mathematical Sciences”;
  • Terry Heard, teacher, author and co-founder of the UK Mathematics Trust; MBE “for services to the Teaching of Mathematics”;
  • Jenny Ramsden, teacher; MBE “for services to Further Education and to Mathematics Education through the UK Mathematics Trust”.

In addition, theoretical particle physicist Prof. Peter Higgs was appointed Companion of Honour “for services to Physics”, Professor Keith Burnett CBE FRS, physicist and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield was knighted “for services to Science and Higher Education” and Jeremy Buckle, event director of the Big Bang: UK Young Scientists and Engineers Fair, was awarded the Medal of the Order of the British Empire “for services to Science and Engineering”.

A full list may be obtained from the Cabinet Office website.

Update (14:23): Thanks to Mr H in the comments for adding Jerry Roberts, who worked on deciphering Tunny (Lorenz) at Bletchley Park during World War II, awarded MBE “for services to the work of Bletchley Park and to codebreaking” (listed as Raymond Clarke Roberts, in the departmental list, rather than the general).

Update (02/01/2013 12:38):  Hetan Shah, Executive Director of the Royal Statistical Society, has tweeted that two RSS fellows not mentioned here are included on the list, that is Prof. Ian Diamond FBA FRSE, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, University of Aberdeen, knighted “for services to Social Science and Higher Education”, and Prof. David Hand, Senior Research Investigator, Imperial College London, awarded OBE “for services to Research and Innovation”.

National Science & Engineering Competition at your local Big Bang Fair

With the national fair over, the regional Big Bang Fairs are taking place. These aim to “inspire and enthuse the next generation of engineers and scientists”. This year the Nottingham Maths Jam group will be at the East Midlands fair repeating our puzzles stall, previously seen at the East Midlands Big Bang Fair 2011.

The stall, abuzz
Maths Jam stall at the East Midlands Big Bang Fair 2011

The fairs in my part of the world are the East Midlands (East Midlands Conference Centre, University of Nottingham, 28 June 2012) and West Midlands (Thinktank, Birmingham, 26 June 2012), both organised by David Ault and his team at By Design who ran the very successful 2011 East Midlands fair. You can find your nearest via the Big Bang website.

One major reason for attending the fairs is to enter a CREST or STEM project to the National Science & Engineering Competition (East Midlands competition page; West Midlands competition page). According to the website, this

seeks to showcase and reward the best student projects from every area of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). It is open to all 11-18 year olds living in the UK.
Students entered projects by attending a Big Bang Near Me event. The best entries from these are invited to showcase their project at The Big Bang: UK Young Scientists’ and Engineers’ Fair, held every year.
There is over £50,000 of prizes available including cash awards and trips abroad. Prizes are available for teams and individuals, for different age groups (Junior: 11 to 14 years; Intermediate: 15 to 16; Senior: 17 to 18 years) and across a range of disciplines and themes. The overall individual winners in the senior age category will be crowned the UK Young Scientist of the Year or the UK Young Engineer of the Year.

Find out more at the competition website. So what are you waiting for? Register to attend your local Fair via the website.

Survey finds pupils rate STEM jobs but find STEM subjects too difficult or boring

The Telegraph reports that a survey of career aspirations of 1,000 pupils aged six to 16 by the Royal Institution’s L’Oreal Young Scientist Centre has been published to coincide with the Big Bang Fair in Birmingham this week.

Findings reported  include:

49.4 per cent of children thought STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths) were too difficult or boring while 15 per cent thought they were only relevant to jobs in medicine.

The Telegraph gives the “top ten dream careers” given by pupils in the survey (remember the age range is six to 16!):

1. Professional Athlete
2. Performer
3. Secret Agent
4. Firefighter
5. Astronaut
6. Veterinarian
7. Doctor
8. Teacher
9. Pilot
10. Zoo Keeper

The Mirror, coving the same story, highlights that this list includes “being a vet, an astronaut, a pilot, a doctor or a zoo keeper”, and points out that all of these need STEM qualifications.

The focus of both articles is on cuts to careers advice since the election. David Porter, Manager of the Royal Institution’s L’Oréal Young Scientist Centre, is quoted saying: “Face to face careers guidance is extremely important, but this survey shows that students are not all receiving the right guidance to lead them in the right direction.”


Telegraph: Half of children find science and maths too difficult or too boring.
Mirror: Careers advice cuts could be putting kids off science.