Gerard Atkinson, mathematician, scientist, artist, professional opera singer and actor, and LTC graduate of 2000, generously donated his time to discuss all things STEM with current LTC students. Gerard started by giving the students a maths problem to solve: how many golf balls can you fit into a Volkswagen Beetle? He called it ‘the most useless maths problem in the world’. The answer to the question is irrelevant, it’s the ‘real world’ process of creative thinking and the problem-solving approach that really matters.
This became the theme of his presentation: maths is more than just numbers and answers, it’s about questioning, creative thinking, and discovering stories within the numbers. Data analysis and evaluation combine mathematics with psychology, anthropology, law and other disciplines to understand what data says about human behaviour and why.
The students were enthralled. During Q&A they had some really good questions. But nothing speaks the success of the presentation more than a story from one science teacher at the school; upon returning to class, a number of students started asking more questions about studying science at university. Perhaps this presentation just changed the course of their lives…