From the 22nd to the 26th of January, the students of the school of Mathematical Sciences found their classes a little more full than usual, there were school children in the corridors and a crowd moving around the campus, it was TY work experience week.
Transition Year students from schools across the Munster area gathered at UCC for the week of learning to teach Maths Circles. During the week, the participants had the chance to attend a variety of undergraduate lectures in mathematics and related area, work on a small research project and receive teaching training. The participants were divided into teams and practiced running a 10-15 min class based on a Maths Circles lesson and at the end, there was a tournament to decide on the best teams based on the participants’ feedback.
We at the UCC School of Mathematics found that the week was a resounding success, participation was excellent and it was incredible to see every student engaging with such enthusiasm. The topics that students read and gave talks about ranged from rabbits and Fibonacci numbers to tiling a square in many different ways and seeing them interested to learn and teach these subjects gives us confidence that the Maths Circles initiative will be around for many years to come.
Since the week ended, we have been happy to hear responses from teachers as well: "They really enjoyed the experience, one of the girls mentioned a lecture on topology, said how she'd never heard the term before but found it really interesting, another loved the chemistry aspect, one girl admitted she hadn't a clue what was going on but loved being on campus, though a lot of walking was required!! And best of all, they noted how independent they needed to be, and how spoon fed they are with us!"
Upon graduation of the one week training, participants received a Teaching Diploma and resource materials which enable them to work as tutors for maths circles for the younger 1st year students in their school, or for primary school students in nearby schools. Maths circles are lunchtime or after-school weekly maths clubs based on teaching materials provided by UCC and the IMT, and are typically run by a teacher with the help of tutors.