Mike Baxter, Assistant AC for the North West
On 1st July, around 40 Year 12 students and 8 teachers attended the annual Modelling Day at Manchester University. The day began with a presentation by Dr Louise Walker, who set the scene by encouraging students to think about a range of modelling and problem solving applications. Abi Bown then gave a talk on the value of completing an EPG and the support that universities can offer.
The students then attended the first of two optional workshops. These were delivered by AMSP staff and post-graduate students who were able to convey their enthusiasm and interest in various mathematical fields. The workshops looked at a wide range of areas, including Combinatronics, X-Ray Imaging, Stimulation, Cryptography and Toppling Towers. The students in my Toppling Towers session experimented with the maximum possible overhang with 10 wooden blocks, and investigated the mathematical model for both this problem and a limitless supply of blocks. This led them to the harmonic series and the surprising result that the available overhang was limitless… in theory! They then went on to model the Desert Crossing problem which involves seeing how far (and back) a jeep can travel with a fixed amount of fuel at a base. The jeep can only take 1 unit of fuel at a time from the base but has the ability to leave fuel in strategically placed barrels for future use. The students also tackled this abstract problem enthusiastically and discovered that this also led to an application of harmonic series.
In the second workshop, the students were given time to work in mixed groups and prepare a 5-10 minute presentation to present to the other students. All five presentations were well organised and the students collaborated well. They conveyed many tricky ideas and techniques with confidence and flair. This event gave them the opportunity to glimpse at some fabulous mathematical applications and the opportunity to work closely with like-minded students.