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Math with Mike

Friday, November 1, 2013

Mike Miniou joined our Faculty recently as the Mathematics liaison and outreach officer. In this new role, he has been visiting high schools and talking to students about "Mathematics in the real world". His visits to two of the schools are shared here.

Mathematics: The key to the universe

By Sasha (grade 8), St. Michaels University School

Mike presenting at St. Michaels University School.

Mr. Miniou from the University of Waterloo’s Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing gave us a two hour presentation on the applications of mathematics in the real world.

To start with, he gave us a real-life problem faced by organ recipients: how did you match up the biggest amount of compatible donors with patients? It came with a chart that showed many diagonal lines connecting the recipients (A, B, C, D, E, F) to the donors (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7). The chart in question is used to maximize the potential of efficiently and effectively delivering organs to their respective patients.

For the next 90 minutes he ran us through various examples (and a few trials) of how mathematics applies in many fields including computing, economics, many aspects of science, and architecture. He did this all with a creative PowerPoint that included several problems that the grade 8 students were given a (surprisingly) large amount of time to solve.

All in all, the presentation was very interesting and entertaining. As far as I could see, the presentation instilled the same awe (that mathematics could be interesting) in the other students as it did me. The problems were fairly easy as well, meriting a number of right answers. Even for the people that don’t like math, this may soften their attitude.

By mathematics teachers Sachiko Noguchi and Natasa Sirotic, Southpointe Academy

Math with Mike at Southpointe Academy.On October 1, Southpointe Academy had a special guest visiting from the University of Waterloo. Mr. Mike Miniou is a Mathematics Liaison and Outreach Officer in the Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing in the University of Waterloo. He visited grade 9 and 10 math classes and gave a presentation called “Mathematics in the real world.” From the beginning of his presentation, he captured students’ interest and provided activities for our students that depict the uses of mathematics in various fields of human endeavor, such as health sciences, environment, agriculture, zoology, transportation, architecture, and geography.

Mike presenting in a classroom.First of all, he emphasized the importance of logical thinking. Students were asked to analyze a winning strategy by playing a game. He inspired students by giving them an activity that emulated a real-life situation. Students were asked to find the link between patients and donors that were compatable according to blood type. The students learned that using Graph Theory and Combinatorics could help medical sciences maximize the number of suitable combinations of donors and patients and thereby save many lives.

Mike explaining a math problem with solution.Mr. Miniou also related a variety of careers with mathematics. He created a few categories such as Trends, Health, Entertainment, Safety, Environment, and Money. In each category, he showed a list of careers. By asking students questions such as how mathematics can be used in the work force, he generated good discussions and made the students think how mathematics is used and how it is important for us to be able to do the math in order to succeed in any of these careers. The students choose to delve deeper into examining how mathematics is used in the following categories, Money and Entertainment. Many students wished that there had been more time to explore all the categories. During lunchtime, he gave a presentation in the theatre for the grade 11 and 12 students about the University of Waterloo. Students who participated in this session had the opportunity to ask him questions about the admission process.

Math with Mike students with their hands up.The content of his presentations was concrete and informative. His selection of activities communicated that math is interesting, fun, and important. Students were very responsive to his presentation and it was evident from their engagement and thoughtful questioning. Our students have learned that mathematics can be used to improve our lives, invent something new, and help people.

Thank you very much, Mr. Miniou! We hope you will visit us again in the near future.