Shoppers find Grafton Street transformed into mathematical land of mazes, games and puzzles

Mon, Oct 17, 2011, 01:00

HOLLY CASEY (16) just came out to buy a pair of shoes but she ended up staying outside Dublin’s St Stephen’s Green for more than 40 minutes trying to unlock the secrets of Adrian Fisher’s arrow maze at Maths in the City on Saturday morning.

Teachers and “maths magicians” from Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, the University of Oxford and the Polytechnic University of Madrid all came together for the event as part of Maths Week.

Giant Towers of Hanoi puzzles loomed over participants building tangrams and origami shapes. Others puzzled over logic games or jumped around mazes laid out on the street. Performers illustrated the history of Euclid and Newton through juggling and acrobatics. Musicians used division to create rhythm.

Like many of the attendees, Ms Casey had no idea a maths carnival was taking place on Grafton Street when she went shopping in the morning. After stumbling upon it, though, she could not leave without trying her hand at the games lining the streets. “I like maths,” she said. “It’s logical problems so I like that kind of thing.”

Almost 95,000 schoolchildren are due to participate in Maths Week this year, up from 86,000 last year. The week-long series of events and lectures focuses on taking maths out of the classroom.

“Education is not about the classroom. Education is about real life,” said teacher Margaret Donegan, who helped with tangrams and origami at Maths in the City.

The key to making maths accessible, she said, was to make it part of people’s lives and leisure activities.


Maths magician Andrew Jeffrey will give a talk to more than 1,500 primary schoolchildren at 10am and noon at the Helix in Dublin.

Dr Norman MacMillan will give a talk on the life and work of George Gabriel Stokes at IT Sligo.


A maths drop-in workshop for primary school parents takes place at DCU at 10am.

A “Socktastic” maths puppet show for early schoolchildren takes place in South Dublin County libraries from 10am to 1pm.

Maths in the City takes place on John Roberts Square, Waterford city, at 3pm.

Maths Week runs until October 22nd. See