March 8, 2019, by pmzmah

The Nottingham Festival of Science and Curiosity

On Saturday 16th February 2019, three of our MASS students attended and ran their own stall at the Nottingham Festival of Science and Curiosity event in the intu Broadmarsh centre. We met up with MASS student Heather Collis to find out more about the event.

What is the Nottingham Festival of Science and Curiosity?

The Nottingham Festival of Science and Curiosity is an annual event that takes place in the city. The week-long festival showcases science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to the wider public in fun and interactive ways. The festival is open to people of all ages and hosts a wide variety of activities. Follow this link to find out more.

Meet the team

Heather Collis, Christopher Lanyon and Emily Mitchell are all students from our Modelling and Analytics for a Sustainable Society (MASS) program. They decided that taking part in this wider Nottingham event would be a great way to showcase mathematics in a new light.

“The stall itself doesn’t scream mathematics. People came over and assumed given the games we had that we studied biology or physics, they were surprised to hear that we’re all mathematicians.”

About their stall

The games created by our MASS students.

Their stall contained two different games, “Drugs and Bugs” and top trumps. “Drugs and bugs” was inspired by the popular board game “snakes and ladders” and proved to be really successful with younger audiences. One difference between their stall and others nearby was that it was less of a pop-up stall and more of a stall where people take their time and get to know the topics.

“I think it would be helpful in the future to develop something that could be more instant, but for a first time we were all really happy.”

The Royal Society of biology showed interest in their stall, they even mentioned a possible future collaboration given the games that were designed.

Bringing mathematics into the conversation

As this stall required people to take their time, Heather found that there were quite a few parents who were interested in the topics. This highlighted that it’s not just about inspiring kids to pursue careers in science, but also to encourage parents to have those more academic conversations with their kids. It wasn’t just parents and kids that showed an interest in our PhD student’s work, quite a few adults came by independently to ask about the work they do. This was also one of few stalls being run exclusively by PhD students.

“People still think it’s OK to shrug off maths and just say they don’t like it. By doing an event like this we can show them just what kind of impact maths can have.”

The event appeared to be a great success. We’re proud of our wonderful MASS students for putting some of the benefits of mathematics out there to the public. To find out more about our MASS students, their projects and the program itself, click here.

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