2 + 2 ≠ Fear

Bangladeshi youth organisations take the initiative to observe World Math Week in 20 countries. Imtiaz Salim reveals how the organisers aim to use the event to lessen math phobia and also create a platform worldwide that can revel in the beauty of mathematics

Students taking exam at the Cantonment Public School and College, Rangpur.

Students taking exam at the Cantonment Public School and College, Rangpur.

There are no middle grounds in mathematics. You are either right, or wrong. That is it. As far as math is concerned, there are roughly two kinds of people, one that run out the window the moment numbers threaten to make an appearance, and the other kind would rather work on a perplexing sum to relax their minds and marvel at the beauty of missing values.
For the first time, math haters and lovers around the world have the opportunity to celebrate World Math Week this year. And the day of the event could not be more mathematically arousing than March 14, 2015 or 3-14-15, which matches the value of ‘π’ (3.1415). A date as holy as this for math connoisseurs could come only once every 100 years. Besides, March 14 is already known as Pi Day.
The event to be held from March 14-20 is being organised to popularise and highlight the beauty and also importance of mathematics. Fifty mathematical events, to be held in 20 countries, are expected to pull throngs of students and math enthusiasts around the world. Bangladesh will hold an esteemed position in the World Math Week because the initiative of the event was taken by Bangladeshi organisations like Zero to Infinity, Boson Science Club, Adamjee Cantonment College and Khulna University. The idea of celebrating the math week worldwide has come from the science centric Bangla magazine Zero to Infinity. The popular monthly magazine that runs stories on science, mathematics and health came up with the idea of observing the week not only in Bangladesh but also around the world to promote mathematics. Previously Ireland used to observe Math Week on different days but that had not been celebrated worldwide. ‘We have asked our friends living abroad to observe the day simultaneously by taking initiatives as best as they can. Fortunately, they have welcomed the idea and started promotion on behalf of us. Till now institutes from 20 countries have confirmed to observe the week at the same time,’ says Abdullah Al Mahmud, editor of Zero to Infinity.
Various types of math and science centric events will be held during the week and anyone can join in by registering on the math week’s website or taking necessary steps of arranging festival at their own institute.
The slogan for the week ‘Mathematics for the better world’ aims to lessen math phobia around the world and demonstrate how enticing mathematics could really be. The organisers have designed the events in such a way that they may help the weak in math overcome their psychological fear of mathematics. Apart from the Olympiad events all other programmes are recommended for all ages and categories of people. ‘We have set our event plans considering the participation of all kinds of students from school, college and university,’ says Mahmud. As part of the plan all the registered and unregistered participants can take part in innovative and appealing mathematical activities where no calculators will be allowed. ‘We are confident that anyone who fears or despises math can enjoy our events if he or she comes with an open mind,’ Mahmud asserts.
Youths of this age love take challenges in every aspect of their lives. And this is the theory that the organisers have put their money on while designing the events. Suman Saha, founder of Bangladesh Science Society and the coordinator of World Math Week celebration in Khulna area says to New Age Youth, ‘The youth of today will shape the future of the society. They are all about conquering uncharted territory and their attitude can be the same about mathematics.’
Suman believes solving mathematics help participants become more equipped for critical analysis and the skills they will acquire can help them in different aspects of life. ‘We have set events such as computer apps contest, pi t-shirt design contest, sudoku contest, quiz contests on mathematics and so on which are interesting for young students. Through participating in these events they can easily analyse the factuality and reason logically about their surroundings,’ Suman adds.
If you consider solving math using no calculator during the week then you will be able to chase your fear in broad numbers. ‘We have diversified segments for all kinds of students except the Olympiad, which is only for experts. The other segments such as math talks and Rubik’s cube challenge can encourage them to perceive reality in a different way,’ says Md Ferdous Wahed, student of Adamjee Cantonment College and the general secretary of Neutrino ACC Science Club.
According to Hasibul Banna Riad, vice president of Boson Science Club, the segments have been structured so that the people who are not interested in mathematics can gain their interests in it. ‘The volunteers are mostly between the age of 14 and 16. These volunteers will also serve as role models for serving the community. Also, the participants have the opportunity to represent Bangladesh in world famous contests,’ says Riad.
Anyone interested to organise an event in your area may register on: http://worldmathweek.org. World Math Week can also be reached on Facebook, for twitter, #WMW2015. Hash tag applies.

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