400,000 people set to engage in all-island festival of maths and numeracy

Maths Week Ireland returns for the annual all-island festival dedicated to raising awareness and appreciation of maths and numeracy among young people, parents and the wider population (12th – 20th October). Over 400,000 people, including students and the general public, will take part in events across the island focused on driving home the benefits of maths and all the opportunities it brings for individuals, society and the economy.

Now in its 14th year, Maths Week Ireland continues to be the largest festival of maths in the world. This year’s programme of events was launched today by Education and Skills Minister, Joe McHugh T.D. with Dr. Ruth Freeman, Director of Science for Society, Science Foundation Ireland, Dr. Sheila Donegan of Maths Week Ireland and pupils from St. Christopher’s Primary School in Dublin city centre.

This year’s events kick off in style on October 12th with Maths in the City in Victoria Square, Belfast. The Maths Week team will be taking their live pop-up maths exhibition to the people with shows and activities for all the family. Maths in the City will then return to Dublin for an extravaganza of on street maths in College Green at the Bank of Ireland plaza on Saturday October 19th.

Other big family events include the Munster Maths and Science Fair in Mallow, Co. Cork on Sunday 13th October and the Celebration of Mind on Sunday 20th October at the Pumpkin Festival at the Botanic Gardens Dublin.

Co-ordinated by Calmast, Waterford Institute of Technology’s STEM Engagement Centre, Maths Week is funded through the SFI Discover Programme, Department of Education and Skills, Department for the Economy Northern Ireland and tech firm Xilinx. It is run with more than 50 partner organisations including universities, institutes of technology, libraries, schools, training colleges, visitor centres and employers.

As well as the overall benefits of maths and numeracy, this year’s events will focus on the use of mathematics in the separate fields of climate change and sports. 2019 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of legendary Irish mathematician, George Gabriel Stokes, whose maths is today used to model climate change. Maths Week 2019 will include Stokes’ work in events and information for schools and the general public throughout the festival, including lectures on maths in meteorology and climatology.

Maths Week will also take a closer look at the major role that maths plays in sports, with special events for upwards of 1,000 students in Croke Park. Transition Year and Senior Cycle students will hear from Dr. Aoife Hunt who specialises in using maths and statistics to understand the behaviour of large crowds at sports stadiums. Kevin O’Brien, DCU PhD Researcher will explain how maths wins matches, examining the use of maths based technology for training and match-day, while Ravi Vakaria, Project Manager and GAA Operations Lead for Hawkeye, will explore how ball tracking has changed decision making in sport.

The Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh T.D. said, “I’m delighted to launch Maths Week 2019. We all appreciate the significance of learning maths long after we’ve left school but the unique thing about Maths Weeks is that it brings numbers to life. It shows us all how maths and numerical skill can explain complex things like the movement of people or the impact we are having on our climate and also how it brings a new dimension to something we hold dear, like the development of our Gaelic games. I wish this year’s festival every success, and I encourage everyone to get involved in the events that will be happening across the island.” 

Dr Ruth Freeman, Director of Science for Society, Science Foundation Ireland, said: “Science Foundation Ireland is delighted to continue its support of Maths Week in 2019. Maths underpins every aspect of life in Ireland. It is a driver of the STEM skills and innovation that we need for a successful, vibrant, competitive and growing economy. Fundamentally, Maths Week helps people to increase their confidence and numerical literacy, which can greatly improve everyday lives.” 

Dr. Sheila Donegan, Maths Week Ireland, said, “We’re really excited about the programme we’ve lined up for Maths Week 2019. A key message for parents is to encourage an interest in maths and numeracy from an early age and also to encourage older students to do the absolute best they can at maths throughout their school lives. Disciplines such as engineering, science, computing, finance, economics, accountancy, management and many others all have a mathematical basis, and it’s essential to supply these sectors with the right skills. However, in general terms maths and numbers are all around us, and they always will be, so being comfortable with numeracy is really important no matter what stage of life or career you’re at. We’re going to have great fun in getting that message across to the many thousands of people young and old who we’re looking forward to meeting throughout Maths Week 2019.”

Some notable Maths Week 2019 events include:

  • Maths in the City, Victoria Square, Belfast, Saturday October 12th.
  • Murderous Maths at The Helix, DCU, Monday October 14th.
  • Math-a-magic, Cavan Institute, Tuesday October 15th.
  • Bubbly Maths, Birr Castle, Offaly, Tuesday October 15th.
  • The Maths of Climate Change and Weather Forecasting, National Library of Ireland, Kildare Street, Dublin 2, October 15th.
  • Maths Museum of Catalonia, Blackrock Castle Observatory, Cork, Wednesday October 16th.
  • Mind your Money, budgeting for primary school pupils in Waterford IT, Thursday October 17th.
  • The Mathematical Life of George Gabriel Stokes, National Library of Ireland, Kildare Street, Dublin 2, October 17th.
  • Maths in the City, Bank of Ireland College Green, Saturday October 19th.
  • Celebration of Mind, Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, Sunday October 20th.

Full programme and details of how to get involved are available on the Maths Week website www.mathsweek.ie with ongoing event and programme updates available in advance and throughout Maths Week via Facebook @MathsWeek2019 and Twitter @mathsweek and #mathsweek19