A blog for students on the FDLT and BALT courses at the University of Northampton

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Royal Institution Christmas Lectures

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This year’s Royal Institution Christmas Lectures are based around the hidden power of mathematics. They are broadcast on BBC4 at 8pm on 26th, 27th and 28th December and available on iplayer.

Outline of each lecture:

“In Lecture one, Hannah seeks to find the luckiest member of the audience. It seems a sensible plan. The biggest events in your life – finding the perfect partner or a job, staying healthy and happy – rely on a huge element of luck. Or does probability allow us to understand and predict complex systems? 

In Lecture two, we see how ‘chaining probabilities together’ help us to understand even more complex systems. Through entertaining examples, Hannah shows how data-gobbling algorithms have taken over our lives and now control almost everything we do without us even realising. 

In Lecture three, Hannah looks at why maths can fail and asks what the limits of maths are. Are there problems maths can’t or shouldn’t solve? And in an age where ‘fake news’ abounds and statistics can be twisted to prove anything, should we always trust in numbers?” (The Royal Institution, 2019, lines 21-34).

You can find more information here.

There is further supporting information and resources here

These include:

“Structured practice debate kits on the topic “Should our town centre be self-driving cars only?”.

The kits have everything you need to run a debate on a controversial topic. They are set up to help students learn how to structure a debate, back up their opinions with facts and consider other points of view.Our Science Debate Kits (a free STEM resource) develop students’ discussion skills around scientific issues.

They contain 8 debate cards outlining the opinions of fictional characters with an interest in a given science topic, and teachers notes to help you to carry out the lesson effectively. 

https://cars.imascientist.org.uk/#6

and 

I’m a Mathematician, Get me out of here! is an online student-led STEM enrichment activity where students connect with people using maths at the centre of their work.

Funded by the Royal Institution, The CHRISTMAS LECTURES Zone (6th – 31st January 2020) will focus on the themes of this year’s Lectures, including statistics, probability, big data, algorithms and machine learning.

For teachers:

Your class will go online to ask their questions to a range of mathematicians, technologists, engineers, scientists and more.

You’ll need two lessons to run the activity with your class, and can book a live chat at a time that suits your class this January.

Register by 6/12/19 at secrets.imamathematician.uk/teacher-registration.” (The Royal Institution, 2019, lines 1-26)

Reference

The Royal Insitution (2019) About the Lectures. [online] Available from: https://www.rigb.org/christmas-lectures/2019-secrets-and-lies/about-secrets-and-lies [Accessed: 16/12/2019]. 

The Royal Insitution (2019) Beyond the Lectures. [online] Available from: https://www.rigb.org/christmas-lectures/2019-secrets-and-lies/beyond-the-lectures [Accessed: 16/12/2019]. 

Author: Jean

Senior Lecturer, Education at the University of Northampton. Admissions Tutor for the Foundation Degree Learning and Teaching.

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