I’d been wanting to do something to give a bit of a boost to our local Year 12 students who, like everyone else, have had a disrupted year. The AMSP already offers a host of resources to support the Year 12 recovery programme, so I looked around for ideas to do something a bit different…
Two sources of inspiration came to mind. The first was an AMSP East of England online initiative to run a short after-school problem-solving club for teachers and students. The second was Grayson’s Art Club that had been running on Channel 4 since soon after the start of the first lockdown (and now has an exhibition in Manchester that you really should see if you can). Grayson Perry’s key idea in his show is to let members of the British public speak through their own art. I decided to put the two together… and so Martin’s Problem-Solving Club was born!
Eight schools epressed an interest in attending online, each having signed up to the key principles: problems, communication, collaboration and food! Yes, at our local face-to-face problem-solving events we always serve a range of refreshments, so we asked all schools to get the cakes in for their students. Meanwhile, I recruited my problem-solving sidekick, Michael Jones from the University of Liverpool, to join in.
At the first session, Michael and I provided the problems, artistically dressed up in the spirit of Grayson’s Art Club. We then made a point of asking schools to provide us with some content for the next session: one school duly obliged and had clearly entered into the spirit of the enterprise by ensuring that each problem could be expressed almost entirely by means of a picture which I was happy to draw live, of course: art for art’s sake.
At the time of writing, we’re preparing for session 3, having again received an inspired choice of problem: chocolate dissection. We’re having a lot of fun doing this but we hope it’s also useful and helping students to see maths in a slightly different light.