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This spring, the AMSP ran a series of Year 12 events for female students who might be considering mathematical subjects after their A levels. In the South West, we held one of these SUMS (Steps to University for Mathematics Students) in Bristol in conjunction with the University of Bristol Engineering Maths Department.

Around 60 students participated in the day, which started and closed with two early-career mathematicians talking about their route from school to where they are now. First up was Ayesha Hussain, a mathematics researcher at the University of Exeter and the Met Office, who focuses on modelling how forests respond to higher carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Closing the day was Jennifer Chakravarty, based at the University of Bristol, who works in Data Science and explained how she is interested in patterns from text data and how this links with AI.

One thread that ran through the day was a ‘Slow Maths’ Activity – exploring similar structures arising from situations which initially don’t appear to have anything in common. Students worked in groups, supported by student ambassadors from the university, and worked on this throughout the day – with other sessions interspersed.

One of those other sessions was a brief introduction to university admissions tests, many of which have a mathematical element, and another was a Speed Networking session where the Year 12 students could chat and ask questions of the student ambassadors. This series of events follow on from the development of the online SUMS magazine – SUMS – AMSP, and we hope to run another series of events next spring.

The Southampton SUMS event was run in conjunction with the University of Southampton and took place on Friday, 21 April. Forty-seven students were present on the day.

The event was run along very similar lines to that in Bristol but with contrasting early career speakers. Anna Reid, from Hoare Lea Engineering, gave a talk about the systems and construction of buildings. Marah Thormann gave a closing talk on maths in finance and attitudes to risk.

The event was warmly received by the students:

… she really enjoyed it. It was such an encouragement to her meeting so many other young women who love maths and are considering studying it at university.
For my daughter, who has had some severe health problems over the last couple of years and until September struggled to attend school, this was a big thing.
But meeting others, hearing the journeys of women who had studied maths and talking to current students, has given her a fresh perspective and an awareness that she’s more than capable of studying it at degree level.
She’s currently looking at applying to a number of universities to study maths in 2025.

We look forward to next year’s event with much anticipation!

by Pat Cobb and Andy Oldman

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