On Thursday 7th May 2015, Glebelands School were delighted to host the Mathematician Dr Katie Steckles as she gave entertaining, but thought-provoking Mathematics talk to both students and the local community.
Katie is a mathematician based in Manchester who has been working in outreach and giving talks and workshops based on various different areas of Maths for over five years. She currently works for Think Maths alongside Matt Parker (who came to do a talk for us a few years ago), but has also done a multitude of other things including giving workshops at the Royal Institute, produced a series of podcasts, organising the Manchester branch of MathsJam and appearing in various YouTube videos.
During Thursday afternoon, students from Years 8 and 9 joined Katie as she introduced them to the concept of proof, challenged them to solve various puzzles and also showed them some of the greatest unsolved Maths problems. Topics varied from a visual proof of the Pythagorean Theorem to Fermat’s Last Theorem and even map colouring.
Katie then educated around 80 members of the local Cranleigh community by introducing us to the complex world of Topology where shapes such as a coffee mug and doughnut are actually seen as being equivalent. She gave us a practical demonstration of this where she managed to turn a waistcoat she was wearing inside out all while wearing a pair of handcuffs! We then investigated the fascinating Mobius strip which is a loop of paper with a twist that can be manipulated in all sorts of unexpected ways; even to give a pair of intertwined hearts! Katie finally ended with an incredible demonstration where she managed to make a torus out of smoke using just a garden waste bin and a plastic bag.
The evening was a fantastic success with overwhelmingly positive feedback from all those who attended and it was great to see students attempting Katie’s waistcoat trick at the end!