Crafty mathematicians win NZAS Cranwell Medal for Science Communication
24 October 2019
University of Canterbury mathematicians Dr Jeanette McLeod and Dr Phil Wilson have won the 2019 New Zealand Association of Scientists Cranwell Medal for Science Communication.
The UC academics are co-founders of Maths Craft New Zealand who have been on a mission to rid New Zealanders of maths-phobia since launching their non-profit initiative in 2016.
Maths Craft aims to celebrate the links between mathematics and craft, showing people of all ages how fun, creative and beautiful maths can be, and to demonstrate what it means to think like a mathematician.
As Director and Deputy Director of Maths Craft, Drs McLeod and Wilson have brought maths to the masses. More than 11,000 people from a diverse variety of backgrounds have attended the regular free Maths Craft festivals and workshops, making it the largest maths outreach programme in New Zealand.
“With maths often seen as boring or scary, Jeanette and Phil have introduced thousands to a colourful alternative reality – of patterns, grand ideas and art, said Murray Cox, incoming co-director at Te Pūnaha Matatini where both the UC academics are Te Pūnaha Matatini investigators.
“Telling the real story of maths in new and exciting ways that are characteristically their own, Jeanette and Phil have a special ability to engage everyone – from toddlers to teenagers to tīpuna. The award of the Cranwell Medal recognises their unique contribution to New Zealand’s public science scene.”
Priscilla (Cilla) Wehi, incoming co-director at Te Pūnaha Matatini, adds: “Jeanette and Phil are two extremely talented mathematicians and ingenious communicators who have inspired many people around New Zealand, including me, to learn more about maths. I’m thrilled to see their wonderful work recognised with this award.”
Drs McLeod and Wilson have written dozens of freely available instructional handouts to be distributed at Maths Craft events. Furthermore, they have trained and mentored many volunteers and team members, trained teachers, given public talks, and collaborated with other researchers to determine the efficacy of their approach.
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