Exploring Maths Weybridge 10 a.m. on first Tuesday monthly to explore the hidden maths behind everyday life.
The Leader says:
"We meet at my house in Weybridge. There are 9 on the register, typical attendance 5 or 6 – so there is room for more.
Although I am not a maths graduate or teacher, I have a long-standing and abiding interest in all aspects of mathematics, ranging from the recreational/puzzle approaches of the likes of Ian Stewart and Martin Gardner, through to current popularists such as Marcus du Sautoy and Hannah Fry. It therefore saddens me to see so many people saying that mathematics is not for them, and consequently missing out on the joy and beauty of a mathematical mindset.
When I joined the Elmbridge U3A around six years ago, I found that the groups in my U3A branch spanned most of the school or university subject areas, with the notable exception of mathematics, which appeared to be somewhat of a Cinderella subject. I wanted to awaken a wider (or possibly latent) interest in mathematics in the Elmbridge U3A, by setting up a maths interest group – but didn't want to turn off potential group members by choosing an inappropriate group name. I settled on "Exploring Maths", with the tagline "the hidden maths behind everyday life".
The exact topics explored depend on the interests and active participation of the group members, as it operates as a group activity rather than a taught course. Each month I suggest a topic area for the next meeting, and ask the members to investigate (mainly via the internet) related subjects around that topic. In some months I lead with a basic presentation, which acts as a stimulus for group discussion. In other months a group member will prepare the presentation, depending on their experience or interest.
Here are some topics we have explored and questions we have attempted to answer:
• time and calendars - why did the Russian "October Revolution" actually take place in November 1917? Why does the UK tax year start on 6th April?
• chirality - what is left- and right-handedness, in people and molecules?
• animal locomotion - what is the mathematical difference between a horse's transverse gallop and a cheetah's rotating gallop?
• plant growth - why is it rare to find a four-leaf clover? How many spirals can you count on a pineapple?
• codes - how are credit card details transmitted securely? What are International Standard Book Numbers?
Each Christmas I send out a set of mathematical or logical puzzles, in the style of the daily Radio 4 Today puzzles. I also want to address more of Ian Stewart's "17 Equations that Changed the World". And since the group membership has changed over the six years it has been running, will undoubtedly need to repeat some of the 30 or so mathematical topics we have already covered.