I have been involved with Gifted and Talented provision through Warwick University since 2002, initially through NAGTY (National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth) and now through IGGY (International Gateway for Gifted Youth).
Gone are the days where gifted provision was automatically accelerated learning, and through experience I have witnessed the damage this can do to young learners who although they’ve ended up with an A level at an early age due to mechanical excellence do not have the intellectual maturaity to really appreciate what they are doing. Gifted provision should be aimed at extending and broadening a learners experiences, exploring ideas and concepts which may be at a much higher level but using the current background (in my case their current mathematical knowledge). Indeed, many of the concepts I explore are first encountered in a rigorous setting at degree level, but can successfully be explored and appreciated through example and graphical means with a lot less mathematical background giving a better grounding for the maths they have learnt, and appreciation of why that maths is useful as well as being an intellectually stimulating exercise. In addition gifted provision should ideally give learners the opportunity to interact with like minded individuals, whether face to face or online.
2002 to 2007 NAGTY Summer Schools.
NAGTY was awarded to Warwick University early in 2002, and the first event was to be the first of many summer schools hosted at Warwick on an annual basis, but eventually also including 6 other Universities around the UK. By the end there were over 200,000 school children aged 11 to 19 signed up to NAGTY, nominally representing the top 5% of the school population. For the first couple of years the Warwick Summer Schools were 3 weeks in duration, later decreasing to two weeks. I was to lead a maths course on each Warwick summer school, along with a dedicated and enthusiastic team, covering diverse topics such as population modelling, codes and ciphers, symmetry, BASIC programming, fractals, networks. As time progressed the courses I ran at the summer schools became more biased towards population modelling as the main theme feeding into, and being fed by, experiences of the Gaia Island Project (see below). I was also involved in some one off outreach programmes including a day on “How Aliens Move” co-presented with Ian Stewart.
2006 to 2008 the Gaia Island Project
For three consecutive years I ran the Gaia Island Project, a blended learning event, mostly online through forums and website with regular outreach days to introduce the more complicated concepts and reinforce the online learning. The length varied from 2 to 3 months and participation between 50 and 70 students from over a dozen schools at a time. Students were split into smaller groups and each group assigned an animal on the fictitious “Gaia Island”, they then used the knowledge they had learnt on using mathematics to model populations and interactions to develop models describing he growth of their animal independently of the work of the other groups, and tested their models with BASIC programming (mathematical analysis was way beyond the scope of the project).
Each day of the project was 10 years on the island, and each groups current model was submitted to a central model under my control which would be updated on a daily basis to reflect the new interactions between the groups that had been introduced (e.g. if one animal was now hunting/beiung hunted by another, or were now sharing some resource). A couple of representative graphs from the third project are below:
|Eagle population all years||Snake population all years|
2007 onwards IGGY Summer Schools
IGGY continued where NAGTY left off, and the Warwick Summer Schools (now re-branded as the Summer U) were again held 2008, 2009 and 2010 at which I ran maths courses at the first two of these. In addition the Schools went international and I ran maths courses at the IGGY Summer U’s in Singapore (December 2008) and Botswana (August 2010). By now the course I ran had morphed into “Mathematics Through the Eyes of an Ant”, with the topics now settled on population modelling, networks, BASIC, animal gaits (leading to insect locomotion), catastrophes and bifurcations, and fractals.
2011 Onwards IGGY Online and the Junior Commission
In 2011 it was decided that IGGY would move towards primarily online provision to cater for as many of our members as possible in the most efficient way. The summer of 2011 was the pilot phase of this provision, and I was appointed the Academic Leader for IGGY to gather academics both old and new to the programme to provide a diverse range of online provision for our members. I also helped co-ordinate the 2011 Junior Commission, a dozen IGGY members who over the year considered energy sustainability and how their generation will need to modify their behaviour in the use of energy to counteract rapidly changing availability of energy sources. More information can be found in the Junior Commission section of the IGGY Website. The brand new website was launched late in 2012 at iggy.net!
- Updates and Musings This is a quick post that isn’t really designed to be read, but is to collect my thoughts about what jobs need to be done around my various web presences such as updating, tidying up, general procrastination as well as maybe other projects that have fallen by the wayside that need to be picked up again. ...
- Litro & IGGY Young Person’s Short Story Competition 2011 Last Wednesday (12th October 2011) I had the pleasure of attending the award ceremony for the 2011 Litro and IGGY Young Person’s Short Story Competition 2011 held at the 3i offices in London. This is the second year this competition has run, and the prize to the winner was a substantial cheque, and their story ...
- Some reflections on Botswana IGGY U 2010 A quick series of comments, not designed to be a throrough summary of my experiences but more to reflect on the event. From the 15th to the 28th August 2010 the IGGY Summer U was held in Gaborone, Botswana, hosted by BACS (Botswana Accountancy College), and once again I was fortunate enough to be running a ...