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Queen's marking Science Literacy Week

Each year, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) celebrates Science Literacy Week, an opportunity to showcase the Canadian research landscape through events and activities for families and children. The theme for Science Literacy Week 2022 is Mathematics. From Sept. 19 to 25, departments across the university will join the festivities through several activities aimed at engaging the public with the wonders of math – from pandemic modelling to geometry adventures.

Mathematics and infectious diseases

Queen’s Department of Mathematics will host David Earn (McMaster University) for a public lecture on "Learning from the pandemics of the last seven centuries" on Tuesday, Sept. 20, at 6:30 p.m. The event will take place in the Biosciences Auditorium.

Dr. Earn has been Chair of the Modelling Consensus Table of the Ontario Science Advisory Table for COVID-19, and modelling from his group has helped guide the governmental response to COVID-19. He is also a recipient of the Canadian Applied and Industrial Mathematics Society Research Prize and an Elected Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences.

Dr. Earn will examine how historical records allow us to reconstruct patterns of disease spread, in some cases going back hundreds of years. His group at McMaster has been studying these patterns, analyzing data going back as far as 1348. In the lecture, he will discuss insights obtained from mathematical modelling inspired by these data, as well as the opportunities we have to improve our understanding of plague, influenza, COVID-19, and other diseases that cause pandemics.

The event is free and open to the public. Interested participants are asked to register.

Resources for the community

The Department of Mathematics is also partnering with Kingston Frontenac Public Library (KFPL) to curate a reading list of titles related to mathematics. The suggestions will include fiction books, as well as general interest and popular science titles. The list will be available from Sept. 18 on the KFPL website.

On Sept. 20, KFPL will host an online lunch and learn event, “Imagining the Future with Math.” Troy Day, head of the Department of Mathematics and part of the Provincial COVID-19 Modelling Consensus Table, is one of the panelists, accompanied by Dr. Earn. You can register for the event through the KFPL website.

The Faculty of Education will release a new episode of its Popular Podagogy podcast, which discusses how to combine innovative educational ideas with the everyday life of being a teacher. For the Science Literacy Week special episode, faculty member and host Christ Carlton will interview award-winning author Lindsey Carmichael, who has published several books for children and young adults. She will talk about what science literacy is, why it is important, and what role books play in science literacy.

Mathematics for kids

The Queen’s Vice-Principal Research Portfolio, through Science Rendezvous Kingston, will offer an online adventure for kids, available starting Sept. 19. The project, led by Professor Emerita Lynda Colgan and funded by NSERC, includes downloadable puzzles, released daily, that kids can print, colour, and fold into a booklet.

Award-winning children’s author and illustrator, Peggy Collins has created the characters for the booklet. The adventure features the Time Travelling Tangram Gang, a group of kids who unlock the portal to a time travel machine using tangrams. On their adventures, they meet children from ancient China, Mexico and Egypt who teach them about how mathematics was used during their time and the importance of math to their cultures.

To access information about this project and to download the puzzles, visit the website.