Community for Mathematical Content in Teaching

Courses at The University of Auckland in 2009

To enrol or for more information call Judy on 3737599 ext 88605
or email me at

All the courses are in Room 222 in Building 303 on the city campus of the University of Auckland.
Parking is available a 5 minute walk away in the Owen Glenn Building in Grafton Road (very near the intersection with Symonds St) at $5 for the evening.
Cost $250 per participant.

Term One.

March 2nd, 9th, 16th and 23rd 6:15 to 8:15 pm (with a short break for a pizza snack)

An Assortment of Probabilistic Questions.

Presenter: Dr Rachel Fewster.

How do you fake data successfully? Are there patterns in randomness?

What does Benford's law tell us? How could I use Markov chains to tell whether a student faked tossing a coin 200 times? What is the Hyper-geometric distribution - and how will it help me as a teacher?

Rachel will show that these patterns are sometimes counterintuitive and can trip up fakers and innocents alike. We will look at Benford's Law as it applies to faking - amongst other things- tax returns. In addition we will see how useful the Hypergeometric distribution can be in disentangling some of those tiresome probability questions that we, and the students, sometimes struggle to sort out.

Term Two

Saturday 2nd and 23rd of May – 10:30 to 3:30 with breaks for tea and lunch. Light meal provided.

A Follow-up to the Great Origami Maths and Science Show.

Presenters Jonathan Baxter and Judy Paterson.

Jonathan, an internationally recognised origami master will teach us to turn sheets of paper into amazing shapes and forms. This will extend the ways in which we can make maths more visible, do-able and touchable - students will see the Mathematical ideas fold and unfold before their eyes!!!

We will work on key concepts including fractions and proportions, modelling and the beginnings of algebra , estimating, and iterating, measuring and estimation and creating conic sections.

Every participant will receive a free copy of the book Jonathan wrote with Hugh Gribben and Jack Snoeyink to accompany the GOMSS ( usual price $29).

Term Three

Thursday evenings in August 6th, 13th , 20th and 27th 6:15 to 8:15 pm (with a short break for a pizza snack)

An Astronomical Exploration.

Presenter Dr Philip Sharp.

2009 is the International Year of Astronomy. ( <> /)

Philip Sharp wanted to be an astronomer and now studies it through his mathematics. He is currently part of a team of scientists at NASA working on mathematical models of the icy rings of Saturn. Over the four evenings he will show us how we can use mathematics to explore and explain some explore some of the ways bodies in space behave and how we can model this behaviour. Philip can be seen on the MathsReach website discussing the possibility of earth being struck by a meteor. ( <> /)

Term Four

In the holiday break between Term Three and Term 4. On Thursday 8th and Friday 9 th October - last two days of holidays. 10:30 to 3:30 with breaks for tea and lunch. Light meals provided.

Discrete Mathematics - an introduction to graph theory and combinatorics.

Presenter Dr Jamie Sneddon.

Discrete Mathematics has applications to sport, communcation and other areas.We will examine how to decide whether Super 14 teams really deserve their positions in the competition, and how effective communication networks are built. We'll also look at how graph theory developed from a mathematical puzzle solved in 1736* to the world's first theorem proved by computers.

(* The Seven Bridges of Konigsberg)

The Four Colour Theorem)

Why do we teach maths?
Two very important reasons:

KPMG study shows that innumeracy costs Britain 2.4 billion pounds a year

Best job in the world is to be a mathematician and 7/10 top jobs in a new survey need LOTS of maths

What do Mathematicians and Statisticians do? Where is their research used?

MathsReach is revamping its website and adding new stories and videos for you to use in the classroom.
Go to to listen to mathematicians and statisticians explaining what they do or to read about how maths and stats research is used in a very wide range of fields.