Well done to everyone who had a crack at the Mathematical Olympiad for Girls yesterday. A cheerful paper! Solutions to follow online soon.
On Monday 21st September 2015, 9 girls accompanied by Mr Winston and Ms Copin took the train to the Royal Society to attend a talk given by Professor Adam Bride from the University of Strathclyde. Throughout his academic career, in addition to important contributions to fractional calculus, special functions, integral transforms, and semi group theory, he has been an inspirational teacher to generations of Strathclyde students as well as many other. He has also contributed greatly to the UK’s success in the International Mathematical Olympiad, a mathematical challenge many of the girls from North London are sitting.
Firstly, we were able to hear about the experiences and successes of the British Maths Olympiad Team (which, infuriatingly, consisted of 6 males). They competed in Thailand and Malaysia and brought home 4 silver medals, one bronze medal and a highly commended. One of the boys managed to miss a gold medal by one mark for 3 successive years.
Using an overhead projector instead of the traditional slideshow, Professor McBride managed to solve and explain a number of maths challenges in an engaging and enlightening way.
One of the problems was this:
The objective was to fill in the X’s, each of them representing a different number. The first step he demonstrated to us was that if a number was brought down to the next row, it implied that the dividend was not divisible by the divisor, thus a zero must be placed above the dividing line. Taking us step by step, he used the information that we gained to unravel the problem.
Another interesting but random fact he told us was one of his favourite numbers - A Münchhausen number:
When each digit is taken to its own powers, ie:
3^3 + 4^4 + 3^3 + 5^5
The sum of the number is equal to the original 3435.
We were delighted that we were given this incredible opportunity to hear from such a prestigious professor and also to be able to visit the Royal Society.
Maria and Riya, Year 12
... then maybe there is some maths and physics to it. #ilovemaths
Victoria Adjei attended an Engineering School over the summer
From the 20th to 25th of July 2015, thirty girls aged 11-14 participated in a Summer Engineering Course at Imperial College London. The aim of the week was to encourage more girls become interested in Engineering, as the current ratio of women to men is 1:9. The course covered nine key engineering disciplines, including Aeronautics, Civil Engineering and Computing.
On the first day of the Summer School we were given an introduction to engineering by Dr Jenna Stevens-Smith, where we learnt the extent to which engineering surrounds us. An engineer is not just someone with a drill and hardhat, but anyone who uses science and maths to solve problems which improve the world around us. This means that engineers are actively working to solve issues such as better biomedical devices to improve health. The talk helped to broaden our idea of engineering, as for many the subject was completely new.
One of the most interesting and challenging parts of the week was during the Electrical and Electronic Engineering session, where we were tasked with designing and building a passion meter from scratch. This had the ability to test skin resistance and create a pitched buzz based upon it. When putting the device together, we had to find the correct resistors ourselves from different calculations. The passion meter could also be used as a fairly accurate lie detector, with different levels of skin resistance corresponding to telling the truth or a lie.
The rest of the week included talks about the future of Computer Science in alternative intelligence, augmented reality and robotics, and the chance to test our piloting skills using a flight simulator, complete with a two-seat cockpit and fully programmable glass display instrument panels.
The final day of the course consisted of presentations on each engineering session, as well as the awarding of certificates and t-shirts. Overall, the summer school was a very enlightening experience and has definitely made the prospect of studying engineering much more of an option in the future.
Victoria Adjei 10N
A blog post by Imogen Woods-Wilford on the computer coding course she attended last summer.
Summer is supposed to be a time for relaxing, no studying and ignoring everything that may have anything to do with school or using our brains for most of us. However, when your parents worry that your brain might actually stop working if you don't do something useful, quite often you end up coming back to school more tired than you went away. This year, as one of my more interesting activities (between looking after a farm and writing a full diary in Chinese...) I got to go on a computing course in Cambridge. New this year, it is already so popular that it has received bookings for next year.
So, everybody agrees, computer coding is boring, right? It's literally just typing words from a piece of paper onto a screen. So why would I go on a one week course that could end up just burning loads and loads of useless words into my permanent memory? Well, on this course, I got to make my own computer game, programme Instagram filters and even code a drone to fly around an obstacle course. Not only this, but some of the stuff wasn't even given to us on a piece of paper... We had to work out our own way to make a power up appear or change our photos to have multicolour stripes appear across it (like the gay pride Facebook profile pics recently).
Throughout the week we worked off an online work sheet, taking the code and changing it to fit our own programmes. We would work through the activities in pairs (apparently it stopped people making so many mistakes, but I think it was to force us to socialise; sometimes stereotypical nerds can be stereotypically antisocial...), stopping every so often for one of the helpers to explain the reason we're doing the next part and how it actually works. If we got into trouble with our coding- it wasn't working (which happened way more often than it should have; coding errors are a lot harder to spot than you would think) or you wanted to make your programme do something weird (like you want your photo filter to colour in people's eyes red) then one of the teachers or interns would come over and work out what needs changing, show you, and then explain why that was a problem/why what they did worked. The atmosphere was great and really encouraging- it was normal to make mistakes and sometimes you could work out a piece of code that even the teachers struggled with, just through trial and error.
So, what did I actually make during this week? Well, here are some pictures of each of my finished projects- a flappy batman game (like flappy bird but with batman and power-ups) with it's own website and a high-score log, a couple of different filters over pictures of Totoro (the cats were a different group's; despite the fact that we were mostly glued to our screens, we still had time to socialise) and a drone about to take off (not sure if that's the one I programmed or the one that another group hacked mid way through the course and got to work off a remote control- you can't really tell by a picture of it sitting on the floor...).
Throughout the week we also got to experience parts of life as a Cambridge Student. We lived in a Cambridge College (anyone trying to decide which to go to, Girton is a BAD idea), went to two lectures on Computing in the modern world (it's relevance, the dangers, why to study it and how it relates to other subjects) and we even had the privilege of going to one of the famous Cambridge formal dinners in one of the oldest colleges. These experiences were amazing; the college, while not one of the best, had large single rooms with views onto a small courtyard (also, there weren't really any bedtime rules so we could stay up really late if we wanted. Unfortunately, everyone had NLCS girl type work ethics. We all went to bed by 10:30...), the lectures were presented by University lecturers with huge enthusiasm and energy for their subject and were on really interesting topics, one covering the ethics of AI and war drones. Finally, the formal dinner was amazing- we were served a three course meal in one of the largest halls in the university, receiving the proper Cambridge experience (including the girls' stress over what dress to wear (I'm ashamed to say I brought three, just in case..) and the boys' desperation not to have to wear their suits. I know I'm playing to gender stereotypes. Stop looking at me like that).
The question that is probably now really bugging all of you is "what on earth does this have to do with maths and why am I reading this?". Well, maths is actually the core element of coding. Yes, part of it is being able to learn the language, but a lot of that is based on maths and the algorithms that you're writing normally need sums and equations. Game programming requires an understanding of probability to make the right amount of power ups. You need to be able to calculate how many pixels you want a picture to be to the right or down on a page. In fact, the whole base of a computer is written in binary- a series of 1s and 0s. Maths applies to all aspects of computing, whether you're having to use it or not. And as to why you're reading this, I think that lots of people learn how to use Excel in year seven and think that that's all there is to computing. I'm trying to prove that computing can be fun and can help you create things relevant to you. Also, lots of people don't appreciate how big of a part of our lives computer programming play. All the technology and apps you use have to be programmed before they work. Programming is a huge sector to go into work in (not only that, but if you get good you could be the next Bill Gates).
Cambridge Coding Academy is a summer school for 14-21 year olds and I would seriously recommend that anyone with a passion for maths of even just the slightest interest in computers go, if they get the opportunity. This year they also ran an all girls course for about a third of the price and hopefully that will keep running next year.
Finally, I just wanted to direct anyone who might be interested to a fun piece of software for laptops/computers for experimenting on. It's called Sonic Pi and you can use it to create your own music, but using computer code. It is hugely fun and you don't need any knowledge of computer languages to use it- everything is clearly explained on their website and simple to use. It's also free. Have fun with it!