The Alan Turing Cryptography Competition, now in its 7th year, is an online competition run by the University of Manchester School of Mathematics, for school students up to year 11 or equivalent. Cryptographic puzzles are released every couple of weeks and teams of up to four compete to solve the puzzles, with prizes for the fastest and other randomly selected correct entries. Registrations are open now, and the competition starts on 28th January 2019.
For sixth form pupils, there is also MathsBombe – an online competition, with two mathematical puzzles released every fortnight. The puzzles are not directly related to the A-Level syllabus but will require students to use their problem-solving skills.
Alan Turing Cryptography Competition
Gender inclusivity in mathematics at Harvard
Some mathematicians at Harvard have formed an organisation called “Gender inclusivity in mathematics”, which is dedicated to “creating a community of mathematicians particularly welcoming to women interested in math and reducing the gender gap in Harvard’s math department.”
They’re running a series of talks by invited speakers and discussion events, and hope to run a conference on women in mathematics this academic year.
More information: Gender inclusivity in mathematics at Harvard
via Nalini Joshi on Twitter
National Numeracy Family Maths Toolkit
The National Numeracy campaign, a British charity aiming to improve numeracy in adults as well as children, has relaunched its Parent Toolkit as the Family Maths Toolkit. It contains advice for parents on promoting good attitudes towards maths, as well as ideas for activities to get the whole family enthused and practised in maths. There’s also a section with information to help school teachers support parental engagement with maths.
Visit: Family Maths Toolkit
Pixar in a Box
Khan Academy has partnered with Pixar to produce a subsection of their site which explains some of the maths involved in computer animation. There are the usual videos explaining individual topics, but also plenty of interactive diagrams so you can play along at home. It’s also nice to see some “Get to know …” videos, which present real animators who work at Pixar, talking about why they got into computer animation.
Visit: Pixar in a Box, at Khan Academy
Project organisers José and David
If you enjoyed the magnificent ridiculousness of Matt Parker’s MegaMenger international fractal building project, but would prefer something slightly lower-dimensional, we’ve found the collaborative international fractal-building project for you!
A team led by José L. Rodríguez at the University of Almería, in Spain (who also built a Menger Sponge for MegaMenger) are attempting to build a giant Sierpiński carpet, using green and purple stickers, and an army of
unwitting excited school children.
You may be aware of seemingly endless reports in recent years on the state of mathematics education in England. Marie Joubert says that at least 28 such reports have been published since the beginning of 2011. Now Marie is hoping to “‘draw on the wisdom of the mathematics education crowds’ to develop a shared understanding of what the emerging big messages from these reports are”.
According to a report by the University of London’s Institute of Education, the very best 10-year-old English students are as good at maths as their counterparts around the world, but have fallen behind by around two years by the time they reach their GCSEs.
Cue frothy-mouthed calls for more rigour and tougher exams, presumably since you can’t string people up for not being good at maths, even if it is the only language they understand. Cue also a great deal of “it’s all their fault” finger-pointing and insulting generalisations of the “of course, those Asians value study more highly” variety.
The BBC are reporting that plans to change key subjects, including mathematics, from the current GCSE assessment system to a new, tougher ‘English Baccalaureate Certificate’ and to have a single exam board for each subject are “to be abandoned”.
Further information: Planned switch from GCSEs to Baccalaureate in England ‘abandoned’ at BBC News.
via @RosalindMist on Twitter.