(Published - 14 March 2019)
Mathematics isn’t just crucial for cognitive development and critical thinking. It’s also a fun co-curricular activity - which is why the University of the Western Cape is celebrating the launch of the first UWC Math Club...and on World Pi Day, no less.
“Mathematics plays a pivotal role in the cognitive development of students, providing critical thinking skills that are essential in the workplace and life in general. By learning mathematics, learners develop logical thinking skills which help them in daily activities,” says Prof Kailash Patidar, Head of UWC’s Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics.
“But Mathematics is also a fun co-curricular activity for many students - and the Math Club will give a platform to all our students who want or need healthy interactions on deep mathematics and its applications.”
Math Club is a space for students to explore areas of Mathematics within and broader than those covered in school and at University, to develop a sound foundation for tertiary level Mathematics while solidifying concepts through teaching and learning, participation, and leadership. Students learn and refine problem solving skills by working individually or as part of a team by taking part in group activities.
So why does UWC need a Math Club?
“Mathematics is important for the development of students in almost every academic sphere. However, students all around South Africa - and the world - tend to struggle with aspects of mathematics for various reasons,” says Dr Deon Solomons, Chair of the Maths Department’s Media and Marketing Committee.
“Math Club helps students hone their competitive skills through problem-solving. It provides an academic environment in which students can share information on different aspects of Mathematics through social interaction, social media, seminars, informal chat groups and similar activities.”
Moreover, the educational tools acquired through mathematics can help young people to flourish in later life.
“Mathematics opens doors and has the ability to move communities from one equilibrium to another,” notes Prof Patidar. “We believe that one does not have to be smart enough to do mathematics, but in fact by doing mathematics one become smarter.”
Maths: It’s For Everybody
UWC Math Club has space for all kinds of mathletes - first year or final year, pharmacist or philosopher, maths expert or enthusiast, all are welcome.
Mitchells Plain resident Kuhle-ke Mkosana is currently doing her Bachelors of Science in Mathematics and Statistics, and will be involved with the Club’s community outreach/buddy system.
“I have had a passion - a love, even - for mathematics since I was in primary school,” she says. “I enjoy imparting that love to others so that they can come to higher level of education with the right attitude towards mathematics - and so that they can see the enjoyment in mathematics. UWC can achieve good results due to the math club, it can have students furthering their studies in mathematics - and it can also produce students who appreciate the maths all around them.”
BSc Computer Science major Kamogelo Matjila was born and raised in Alexandra, Joburg, and has taken Maths as an elective because of the fulfilment it offers, and how it helps her solve obstacles.
“Maths has always been seen as exclusive and elite, due to the stigmas surrounding it - that you must be a certain type of person to get through; that maths is something you either get or you don’t,” she says. “But the Math Club is here to destroy all stigmas. It is here to support and empower all students through mentorship - but mostly to make Maths more enjoyable and inclusive through games and competitions...because Maths is for everyone.”
Zandile Mpupa wasn’t always a fan of Maths. The Empangeni, KwaZulu-Natal born (and current Milnerton resident) BSc Physical Science student started school late, and had a lot of catching up to do.
“When I first started doing math all the numbers sort of blew up in my face and I became frustrated,” she recalls. “But now I’m playing with it every day, in my studies and in the real world, and I really enjoy it. What I like most about Math is that it is both easy and challenging to do, solving problems using numbers and equations, and so much more. It’s definitely going to come in handy in my future career as a Medical Physicist - and I’d even say it’s made me more popular.”
Bonus: A Few UWC Numbers
With over 20 000 students and staff in 7 faculties doing world-class research, writing novels and sporting hard, UWC isn’t short of accomplishments.
Here are a prime number of prime UWC numbers worth remembering...
|UWC’s Faculty of Dentistry is the largest dental school in Africa, and the only one that happens to be a World Health Centre of Competence in Oral Health.*
|UWC Creates is the first (and only) creative writing programme in South Africa encouraging creative and social dialogue across across three languages (English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa).
|UWC researchers have achieved National Research Foundation A-ratings, as internationally-respected leading experts in everything from African literature to Astrophysics
|Young PhD candidates from UWC have been selected to attend the prestigious Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings, sharing their ideas with some of the finest minds in the world.
|SARChI Chairs are held by UWC, providing national research and capacity-building leadership on everything from Health Systems Governance to Post-School Education
|State-of-the-art school science labs have been developed by UWC’s Science Learning Centre for Africa, giving science learners the chance to experience a hands-on culture of science.
Looking for more amazing UWC numbers? Look no further!* Yeah, we know there are 6 numbers there...and 6 isn’t prime. But then, technically 1 isn’t a prime number, either...