13th April 2021 — For the fourth year running, Halstead Preparatory School for Girls in Woking has proudly hosted The Royal Institution Mathematics Masterclasses, a series of interactive workshops with the aims of challenging and inspiring pupils to develop and strengthen their passion for mathematics. Not content with just their girls benefiting from such an exciting programme, Halstead takes the initiative and invites many local schools, both state and independent, to join them, and this year was no different. Overcoming ongoing pandemic restrictions, the teachers have adapted the masterclass approach and moved the whole series online so they can continue to deliver a wide range of interactive sessions to children from a total of fifteen schools.
Halstead’s Head of Mathematics, Simona Tudoran, and Head of Pre-Prep, Chris Wardle, have outlined a diverse and creative series of sessions which they host together with other appointed leaders including;
- Alison Eves, Kantor Primary Mathematics Masterclass Coordinator who investigates the remarkable statistical work of Florence Nightingale.
- Rob Eastaway, New Scientist Maths Puzzle Advisor who shares some of his favourite puzzle examples with a whole new take on Pythagoras and Pascal’s Triangle.
- Sudeep Gokarakonda, a Cambridge Maths graduate and passionate Mathematician who has taught across secondary schools in London including a voluntary post teaching a mathematics programme to gifted students in Tower Hamlets.
- Rob Thatcher and Elena Fragkoudaki University of Surrey based Mathematicians whose programme looks at Maths and Game theory exploring probability towards winning classic games such as rock, paper, scissors.
Simona Tudoran’s own topic was about Cracking Codes, where the children unravelled the true meaning of secret messages involving mathematics from simple addition and subtraction, to data handling and logical thinking. Simona explains “In this exercise, we have explored some of my personal favourite codes, from Morse Code, Caesar cipher, pig pen cipher, transition cipher and frequency analysis and, working in teams, we go about solving mysteries, which the children absolutely love”.
Equally enthralling to the children is Halstead’s very own Mathemagician Chris Wardle, not only an ardent mathematician but an award-winning member of The Magic Circle. During his exercise, he explores puzzles and tricks which investigate the wonder of numbers and shape.
Sharon Maher, Headmistress at Halstead concludes “through careful planning, adaptation, resilience and creativity we have been able to run these workshops online this year for all the children”. This has allowed us to continue to inspire more and more young mathematicians across our local communities and to make maths come alive for them in such creative and unimaginable ways they never thought possible”.