Back to news listing
JULY 2021

Hello and welcome to the July edition of the Maths Week Newsletter
Happy July and happy summer!
This month's issue is jam packed with resources and ideas to keep both pupils and teachers on summer holidays busy. 
For the adults, why not have a read of this interesting article on the top unsolved problems in maths. 
For the children, check out some of D.C. Beagle's recommendations

Oonagh Trehin, 
STEM Engagement Coordinator
Share on FB Share on FB
Tweet this Tweet this
Send to a friend Send to a friend

In this issue:

Maths Calendar 2021

We've now published 6 annual Irish Mathematics Wall Calendars, celebrating women and men  doing maths in Ireland or from Ireland doing maths elsewhere.  Because of distribution issues due to Covid, it was at first decided not to produce a 2021 calendar. However, following many requests and in the interests of continuity it was decided to release it online. The calendar can be viewed and downloaded here

The Calendar is compiled by Colm Mulcahy emeritus professor of mathematics Spelman College GA

Celebrating Women in Maths, Science, Engineering & Technology

Robert Boyle Summer School

The 9th annual Robert Boyle Summer School took place on Saturday 26 June. The theme of the event was Women in STEM; past, present & future.

The sessions included historical women in STEM); STEM Journeys; Lady Ranelagh; The Incomparable Life of Robert Boyle’s Sister book launch; keynote address from Prof Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell on the discovery of radio pulsars, and a panel discussion titled “where do we go from here?”.

Of particular interest to many of you will be the presentation by Colm Mulcahy on 'Celebrating Women in Irish Mathematics'. Colm has very kindly shared his slides for those interested. 
Dr Liz Bruton also presented on historical women in STEM, but with a focus on engineering. Liz's talk mentioned one Irene C McDowell, a woman who supplied electricity to 4-5 homes and businesses in Finglas in the 1920s, and Liz has a great blog about her that is well worth a read. 

Keep an eye on, where you will be able to play-back the sessions in the coming week. 


“There will be a total eclipse this year: autumn some time. Now that I come to think of it that ball falls at Greenwich time. It’s the clock is worked by an electric wire …”
Ulysses, James Joyce

 Heaventree of Stars is an annual event celebrating maths, science and astronomy in Ulysses. It was hosted (virtually) at Dunsink Observatory on Thursday 10 June 2021. The evening was compered by Darina Gallagher and included Prof Peter Gallagher. DIAS, Prof Luke Drury, DIAS, DIAS doctoral researchers Aoife Ryan and Pearse Murphy and Eoin Gill. Andrew Basquille (James Joyce Tower and Museum) sang wonderfully, (his) Song of Stephen and Bloom, Loves Old Sweet Song and the Meeting of the Waters. Eoin Gill (Calmast) recounted an encounter with Joyce’s ghost and then explored the theme of water in Ulysses.

Watch the event back here

looking ahead to the new academic year, the Calmast STEMReach programme will commence once more in September.
The initiative was developed to provide sustained engagement through partnership in the South-East in Ireland. The problem solving module is very popular with Transition Year Coordinators and maths teachers. It will be delivered remotely in the Autumn term, so schools anywhere might be interested to participate. Calmast would also welcome enquires from schools in Northern Ireland.  
STEMreach connects higher education, industry, governmental and non-governmental bodies with primary and post-primary schools and wider society and is designed to benefit educational attainment, economy and culture in the region.
If you are interested in getting involved with STEMreach for TY in the new academic year please email
Find out more

Schools News

The Leaving Certificate is over and school is officially finished across the island of Ireland for the summer! It has been a tough year for teachers, school staff and students and
we hope you enjoy a well deserved break.  


For the first time in decades, grammar schools have not used transfer tests to decide which pupils to admit. 

The AQE and Post-Primary Transfer Consortium (PPTC) tests were cancelled this year due to COVID-19, and as a result, almost all grammar schools have not used any academic criteria to select pupils for September.  

Parents of primary seven pupils were encouraged to name at least four schools they wanted their children to transfer to, in order of preference. Non-selective schools use relatively similar criteria each year, but with no transfer tests in 2020-21, grammars have had to draw up alternative criteria to those they would have used previously. 

The Education Authority said that 23,535 children were due to transfer to post-primary in September and that almost 85% of pupils would get a place in their first-preference school.  

For those in secondary education awaiting results, AS and A level results will be released on 10 August, followed by the release of GCSE results on 12 August. 


ROI Primary:

This year saw the return to standardised testing in primary schools. 

Each year, schools use standardised tests in mathematics and reading with children in 2nd, 4th and 6th class, however last year the tests were cancelled due to COVID-19. This year saw a return to the tests for pupils. Results had to be in by 23rd June and the results will be of interest to many.  

ROI Secondary:

The Leaving Certificate went off without much controversy, however some queries were raised about the higher level Maths Paper 1. In this year’s paper, students had to answer four out of six questions in Section A and two out of four questions in Section B. Calculus dominated the paper and some were disappointed to have no financial maths featured. Some question phrasing was questioned by teachers, and some thought that Q10 was a trap, in that part A was easy but part B was difficult and would require novel thinking.  

Read more teacher reactions here 

Thanks to all the schools and classes who took part in our summer TargetBoards. 
Enjoy the summer holidays and we'll have more targetboards for you in the new term!

Junior Leader Board

St Teresa’s NS (1549)
5th class (Mrs Farrell)

Scoil Éinne an Spidéal (20)
Rang a 4 (Caitríona )

St Patrick's NS (8)
Ms Griffin's 6th Class (Ms G)

Gaelscoil Chaladh an Treoigh (1)
Rang IV na Sionainne (Caoimhe Uí Nioclás)

Senior Leader Board

Gaelscoil Chaladh an Treoigh (363)
Rang IV na Sionainne (Caoimhe Uí Nioclás)

St. Michaels NS (238)
Room 2 (CB)

Cloverfield NS (22)
Ranganna 5 & 6 (Noreen O'Dea)

St Teresa’s NS (15)
5th class (Mrs Farrell)

The Irish government has just launched plans to stimulate a national conversation on research and science. 

Creating our Future aims to build on the success of research and science in our battle against Covid-19 and ask the public how we can shape a better Ireland through research and science.The conversation will begin in July and will run until November and will be overseen by an Advisory Forum, which was convened  by Minister Simon Harris. 

The programme will be managed by SFI and we would encourage people to get involved and in particular would urge people to voice the importance of mathematics and its applications. 

See here for more details

Maths Resources

Maths at Home

We have developed a series of appropriate resources to help support the learning of maths at home. You can catch up on all the activities we have released to date at

Maths Archive: first 55 females in Irish Maths

Recently published on the Annals of Irish Mathematics and Mathematicians is a survey of the early Irish woman in mathematics, up to the last woman to earn her first degree in 1920. The blog is a very interesting read and gives great insight into the pioneering women in maths in Ireland. Thanks to Colm Mulcahy for his work in creating this wonderful resource.  

Some interesting points to note from the data: 
  • Most of the very early women here are believed to have been home schooled, receiving no formal education past primary level. 
  • Women born in, reared in, or (at least partially) educated in Ulster account for 27 of the 55 covered in the blog.  
  • We know of 21 with masters degrees.   
  • At least 40 taught in schools for at least one year, of whom 4 also lectured at the 3rd level at some stage. In total, 44 of the 55 were involved in instruction.  
  • 14 did at least some research (this includes the 7 with masters by thesis). 

Read the full blog here.                                                                                                                     

The 24th Maths Ireland Blog celebrating mathematical people associated with various counties, North and South, features County Offaly.
Other areas covered are:
Donegal,  WexfordArmaghLimerickWestmeathMayoBelfastWicklowKerryGalwayMonaghanTipperarySligoCarlowDownCorkCavanLaoisLondonderryMeathLeitrimDublin, and Clare.
This important archive is curated by Colm Mulcahy, professor emeritus, Spelman College, GA.
The Maths Map of Ireland
The Maths Map of Ireland is an exciting new project from Maths Week Ireland and the ESB. The project will see the creation of a Maths Map; to include historical places and people relevant to maths; maths trails and contemporary maths figures and places of interest. 

If you are interested in contributing please email with the subject MATHS MAP. 
The Primary Planet 
Mental Maths Challenge
Right, it's time for the MENTAL MATHS CHALLENGE. 15 questions for you to muddle over.

Primary Planet want answers ... and they want them NOW!

Just play the audio and listen up!

Don't forget -- it's about accuracy, not speed.

Top unsolved problems in maths

Twenty-one years ago, in May 2000, mathematicians released a list of the top seven unsolved problems in the field. Answering them would offer major new insights in fundamental mathematics. 
The seven Millennium Prize Problems were selected by the founding scientific advisory board of the Clay Mathematics Institute, who announced a prize of $1 million for each solution or counterexample that would effectively resolve one of these problems for the first time. Despite the fanfare and monetary incentive, after 21 years, only the Poincaré conjecture has been solved. 
How long will it take for the next solution? 
Read more about the unsolved problems here.  

Sign the Petition!

Dunsink Observatory is part of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS) and has been operated by DIAS since 1947. DIAS has a long term lease from the owner of the observatory, the Office of Public Works (OPW).

Every Year during Maths Week, The Hamilton Walk goes from Dunsink Observatory to Brooms Bridge to mark the famous discovery of quaternions by William Rowan Hamiltom. It follows the route of a proposed new cycle route - The Hamilton Way.

The virtual Hamilton Walk can be seen HERE

The  pedestrian and cycle route would link Dunsink Observatory, the Royal Canal Greenway, Ashtown, and the Tolka Valley Greenway and make the observatory more accessible for all. 

The 450 m long “Hamilton Way” would enable observatory staff and members of the public to access the Observatory in a safe and convenient manner by foot, bike or wheelchair. This would transform access to the Observatory and open it up to many more visitors from the local area and beyond.

Please click here to support the petition to Fingal County Council and Dublin City Council. 
Share your thoughts on the Hamilton Way by emailing All support welcome!

Gathering 4 Gardner Videos

The Gathering4Gardner Foundation celebrates the contribution of Martin Gardner to recreational maths, popularisation of maths, magic, art and skepticism. Their Celebration of Mind series features some of the best and most inspiring maths presenters, including inventors, magicians, mime acts, artists and more. 
See these free videos on their YouTube channel here 


What's On?

 BSHM-CSHPM/SCHPM conference
12 July 2021 @ 14.00 to 15 July 2021 @ 20.00
People, Places, Practices, is the 5-yearly joint conference of the British Society for the History of Mathematics and Canadian Society for History and Philosophy of Mathematics/La Societe Canadienne d'Histoire et de Philosophie des Mathematiques, in collaboration with HOM-SIGMAA, the History of Mathematics Special Interest Group of the MAA.
Register for free here. 
There will be three papers of special interest:

Wed 14th @14:00 Colm Mulcahy (Plenary)

Plenary 5: The Scottish Irish Mathematical Trail

Wed 14th @17:00 Maurice OReilly (Q&A with pre-recorded video available in advance)

Developing an online exhibition of selected mathematical works from Marsh's Library, Dublin: an early modern library through the eyes of undergraduate mathematics students

Thu 15th @ 18:00 Anne Van Weerden (Q&A with pre-recorded video available in advance)

Sir William Rowan Hamilton: the influence of the 1880s temperance struggles on his posthumous reputation

Apprenticeships Webinar Event
July 14, 2021 @ 11:30 am – 12:30 pm

Apprenticeships are changing. They are being offered in new disciplines.
Are you interested in apprenticeships? Do you know someone who is?

The South East’s strong engineering base is built on solid foundations provided by decades of successful engineering apprenticeships who play a pivotal role in delivering our world class manufacturing standards. This showcase will demonstrate the dedication of our engineering company leaders to the apprenticeship model and provides insights from many individuals who are the products of the system.

Please join us on the day to learn more about the benefits that it delivers for not only the apprentice, but also for the companies who employ them and the region they work in.
Register here. 

NYC Math Festival
17th July 2:00 pm to 6:15 pm ET (New York) ONLINE
MoMath is pleased to present the second annual online NYC Math Festival.  Accessible to everyone around the world, this exclusive MoMath offering provides a full schedule of engaging mini-sessions.  Join some of MoMath’s most popular presenters for a nonstop series of math entertainment, including mathematical games, intriguing puzzles and brainteasers, music, magic, hands-on projects to do at home, and so much more — fun for the entire family!  
Register here.

Talking Maths in Public Conference
25-28th August
Talking Maths in Public is a UK based meeting which will be taking place online this year. 

This year's event will be held online using a variety of platforms, and will include workshops, discussion sessions, panels, showcases and talks. Full details of the event are on the website at
Register here

MATRIX × IMAGINARY joint conference
8-9th September 3-8pm daily
The theme of this online conference is THE FUTURE OF MATHEMATICS ENGAGEMENT. Join us to discover innovations in math museums, exhibitions, new formats, technologies and inspiring ideas!
Register your interest here


16th International Conference of The Mathematics Education for the Future Project: Building on the Past to Prepare for the Future
King’s College, Cambridge University, UK
8-13th August 2022

The Mathematics Education for the Future Project was founded in 1986 as an educational, non-commercial and philanthropic initiative to encourage and promote innovation in mathematics, science, statistics and computer education.

Since 1999 we have held 15 international conferences which were renowned for their friendly and productive atmosphere and were attended by many movers and shakers in education world-wide.

We now warmly invite abstracts for papers and workshops dealing with all aspects of innovation in education. Please send to


DCBEAGLE Challenges

BEYOND THE TEXTBOOK – Maths Week Ireland
July 2021

Douglas Buchanan ~ ~ ~ @dcbeagle1


Formal holiday homework- why we should not impose it onto the pupils outlines many aspects on why children should not be burdened with homework over the summer break.
  • Students are learning all the time in the 21st century.
  • More homework doesn’t necessarily equate to higher achievement.
  • Countries that assign more homework don’t outperform those with less homework.
  • Family time is more important during the holidays.
  • For students who travel during the holidays, homework may impede learning on their trip.
  • Kids need time to be kids.
  • Some education experts recommend an end to all homework.
  • You can make the holidays a time for an “open project” for extra credit.
  • Students might learn more from observing the real world.
  • Kids need rest!
  • Many parents and students dislike holiday homework.
To read the full document click here.

From my personal point of view I find formal holiday homework is a chore and who likes doing chores?! Not only is this for the pupil and family but for the teacher. Who wants to spend hours in the first week of an academic year marking screes of written work? I observed many occasions when there were complaints and criticisms from parents that their children’s work was not marked and very little feedback.
However, pupils need encouragement to delve into the world of puzzles and board games.

This month’s puzzle – taken from a Henry Ernest Dudeney book

Exploring the Desert

Nine travellers, each possessing a car, meet on the eastern edge of a desert. They wish to explore the interior, always going due west. Each car can travel forty miles on the contents of the engine tank, which holds a gallon of fuel, and each can carry nine extra gallon cans of fuel and no more. Unopened cans can alone be transferred from car to car. What is the greatest distance at which they can enter the desert without making any depots of fuel for the return journey?

“Maths” activities for the summer – 1000s of paper and pencil puzzles for all ages including Sudoku, Kakuro, Mazes, Slitherlink.
Puzzle a Day for the summer holidays – KS3 / 4.
Puzzle calendars – KS3 / 4
MathsSphere Maths Puzzles – KS1 / 2
Coolmath Games – KS2 / 3
MathsFrame Maths Games – KS1 / 2
Math Playground Logic Games – KS1 / 2 / 3

Preparing for October
Pupils, before we know it we will be looking forward to Maths Week 2021, which sadly, will be virtual again. Our friends from Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival who visit us each year have a wonderful website of activities which you can solve and then investigate how they work or how to create easier ways to solve the problem or expand the activity into a detailed project: And the booklets are projects in themselves:

What a wonderful way to spend you rainy days during the summer break!

Exploring the Desert solution

The nine men, A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, J, all go 40 miles together on the I gal. in their engine tanks, when A transfers I gal. to each of the other eight and has I gal. left to return home. The eight go another 40 miles, when B transfers I gal. to each of the other seven and has 2 gals. to take him home. The seven go another 40 miles, when C transfers I gal. to each of the six others and returns home on the remaining 3 gals. The six go another 40 miles, when D gives each of five I gal. and returns home. The five go 40 miles, when E gives each of four I gal. and returns home. The four go another 40 miles, when F gives each of three I gal. and returns home. The three go 40 miles, when G gives each of two I gal. and returns home. The two go 40 miles, when H gives I gal. to J and returns home. Finally, the last man, J, goes another 40 miles and then has 9 gals. to take him home. Thus J has gone 360 miles out and home, the greatest distance in a straight line that could be reached under the conditions.

Final words

Wishing you all well and do keep healthy and safe and I will be back in September in a happier environment – I hope!


Follow us on social media to take part in our puzzle of the week every Saturday! 

Follow us on social media for updates:
Facebook: @MathsWeek
Twitter: @mathsweek
Instagram: MathsIreland
LinkedIn: Maths Week Ireland
Get in touch, give feedback and feel free to share your ideas and resources.
Copyright © 2021 Maths Week Ireland Calmast. All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:

Maths Week Ireland, Calmast, STEM Engagement Hub, 

Cork Road Campus, Waterford Institute of Technology, Waterford 

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.
Sponsor logos