On Thursday 17th February a group of 23 postgraduates and some lucky undergraduates came to Edinburgh to learn the skill of communicating mathematics. The 2-day conference at ICMS, entitled Engaging with Engagement (EwE), brought together local and national experts to give the students a range of ideas for engaging people with mathematics.
It is becoming increasingly important that today's mathematicians can communicate their work, both within academia and without. The public are bombarded by bad science and maths in the media, whilst there is still a consensus among the population that maths is a dull and difficult subject.
Learning maths busking with stand-up mathematician Matt ParkerThankfully there are an increasing number of opportunites for researchers to get their work into the public eye and to communicate their enthusiasm for the beauty and importance of mathematics. At EwE, students were taught how to make a video, write an article for a magazine or blog, go out onto the streets to do maths busking, and of course to do the traditional thing of giving a talk. Prizes were given on the second day to the best engagers, and a special mention must go to the University of Edinburgh's very own Spiros Adams-Florou, who unanimously won the votes for best talk.During the conference, ICMS also hosted a public lecture by Rob Eastaway on "Ten Ways to Win a Maths Bet in the Pub". The event was sold out two weeks in advance, which is a great indication that our maths engagement efforts are really beginning to bear fruit. The conference was organised by Julia Collins, and supported by the School of Mathematics allocation of the Roberts Fund for Transferable Skills, the Generic Skills Fund of Scottish Universities. Podcast with Julia Collins. (Starts at 39 minute mark).More information about the conference, including details of our expert mentors and the research topics discussed, can be found on the ICMS website http://www.icms.org.uk/workshops/EwEand on Haggis the Sheep's blog http://haggisthesheep.wordpress.com/2011/02/18/engaging-with-engagement/Photos of the event can be found on Madeleine Shepherd's Flickr page.