MathSoc go from strength to strength!

MathSoc have had an excellent year, reaching a massive and record-breaking 325 members. A highlight was our University Challenge event which built upon the "EPS University Challenge" which we’ve held for the last 2 years. Similar to the popular TV, this is a general knowledge quiz where teams from societies across the College compete for glory against each other. This year we went event bigger, taking the competition university-wide and reaching every College and School on campus, making it one of the largest inter-society events held at the University. Overall around 20 teams (with of course the majority being from our very own College of Engineering and Physical Sciences!) entered the initial heats which we ran every evening for a week to determine the best team in each college. Sadly MathSoc didn’t make the EPS cut but our good friends BUMS  (Materials Society) did us proud in the finals completing against teams from BioSoc (Biology), BWAMS  (Widening Access to Medical Sciences), PPE (Policy, Politics and Economics) and BedSoc  (English). After a great competition PPE came out on top and have bragging rights over us all. We can’t wait to do it again next year!

Back in October over 200 freshers and 30 “parents” were involved in our famous Family Scheme, which helps introduce new students to the Maths community and university life. These family groups now build the foundations of friendship across the School of Mathematics and are a great way of getting students from across all year groups to mix and socialise together. Moreover our annual bar crawl had a record number of 225 attendees including international students, postgraduate students and commuters. It was a great social event in the first term that gave our members an opportunity to get to know each other and feel welcome within the School.

Over the year we have increased the range of sports we offer. For example, we assembled our first ever MathSoc women’s football team to compete in a one-day tournament. The team finished 4th despite the main University of Birmingham, Aston University and Birmingham City University BUCS teams taking part. This was a tremendous achievement and something we are looking to expand over the coming years. We also set up a new weekly squash session for our members, which has had excellent turn out. MathSoc FC won the football league for the 3rd consecutive season, while MathSoc Netball improved upon last year by finishing 3rd in their league.

mathsoc 2018 womens fcmathsoc 2018 fc

Despite our attempt to run the Coventry Half Marathon being thwarted by the “Beast from the East” winter storms, MathSoc have raised over £1,100 for Student Minds with fundraising events like our pub quiz held in conjunction with PsychoSoc  (Psychology).

mathsoc 2018 quiz

The Spring Term bought another brand new event for MathSoc where we collaborated with BUMS to organize the inaugural EPS Trophy. This was designed to encourage further inter-society competition within the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences by running one-day football and netball tournament. Teams won points dependent on how far they progressed in each round, and these went towards the overall EPS Trophy. The day was enjoyed by everyone; especially CivSoc (netball winners) and BUMS (the eventual football and overall winners). Our main focus was getting as many people involved as possible, with a wide range of societies taking part. We wanted to cater for everyone, not only those playing but also the spectators so we made sure there was plenty going on throughout the day away from the pitch. Our sponsors Unilever ran a stall in the spectator area, and fellow societies Cameroon Catalyst held a charity wheelbarrow race and ‘guess the sweets’ competition, and UBRobotics ran a keepy-uppy competition. The day was hugely successful and we’ll definitely be a part of making this event bigger and better for next year.

mathsoc 2018 eps trophy netball

On a more academic side, MathSoc ran an event with mathematician Dr James Grime giving a talk on the Enigma machine and attracting students from across the College and wider University. The Society hope this is the start of a great series of events and plan to host similar lectures with renowned guests next year.

mathsoc 2018 james grime

We also secured sponsorship from EY, allowing us to run several new events such as the very popular James Grime lecture, and plan to continue this beneficial partnership.

MathSoc have had another outstanding year in terms of outreach and sharing our passion for mathematics with young people in Birmingham. Our Tutoring Scheme has taken a major step forward, focusing on the after school sessions in local schools which proved extremely successful last year. We have also arranged for members of PPS (the Poynting Physical Society) and ChemSoc (Chemistry) to get involved, facilitating a huge expansion with now over 80 members from EPS societies tutoring GCSE students at Dame Elizabeth Cadbury School in Bourneville on a weekly basis. The tutors attend the school once a week, to tutor a small group of students (between 1 and 3) in their chosen subject (either Maths, Physics or Chemistry). Dame Elizabeth Cadbury School has an extremely large number of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds, meaning that sometimes the help at home is not as encouraging when compared to students from a non-disadvantaged background. So the extra help provided by MathSoc tutors is invaluable, and very well placed.

Alongside providing this educational support, our tutors are also able to raise aspirations for their tutees. During the sessions tutors can explain the life of a university student, encouraging pupils to consider further education as this is a route that many of them are not fully aware of. Teachers have given feedback that those pupils who have been part of the scheme are expected to achieve a lot better in their GCSE exams than they were predicted at the start of the year. Moreover, it is a testament to the Scheme that it is not just the teachers who are praising the MathSoc, the pupils at Dame Elizabeth who are not part of it are now begging their teachers to join in! This is a huge compliment from teenagers so we hope to expand the Scheme even further next year beyond the current three societies, and potentially even to other schools in the area so that MathSoc and the rest of the EPS Community can give even greater benefit to the local area.

As well as all this we’ve continued to grow our social events, with our brand-new event ‘MathSoc Team Seshathlon’ being well received by members who embraced the fun yet challenging evening. In previous years MathSoc has lacked a big social event in the second term and this filled the gap perfectly.

MathSoc’s annual Spring Ball had the highest attendance of recent years with an ever-increasing percentage of first years, which is testimony to how effective the family scheme is. We all had a fabulous night celebrating and already can’t wait for the next one!

Overall, we would like to thank our members for a fantastic year, and hope to only build upon this success in the future. If you love being part of MathSoc or enjoy reading about us, please nominate us for an EPS Societies’ Award!  We have a great history with these Awards, having won the very first Society of the Year back in 2014 and we want that trophy back!

Best wishes,

Zoe Hacking