Maths in the Big Apple

Woldingham and New York are not two places one would commonly associate; the picturesque Surrey countryside would stand out amongst the avant-garde concrete jungle. Nevertheless, on Friday 29th March, after an early rise and a long-haul flight, the Woldingham girls arrived at JFK airport. We were thrilled to enter into Midtown Manhattan, marvelling at the jam-packed pavement, energetic atmosphere and outstanding architecture of the Flatiron Building. At night, we went to the top of the 102-storey Empire State Building, where I think we all fell in love with how the buildings shone like stars in the endless New York skyline.

On our first full day in the Big Apple, we took a Wall Street guided tour and I hope that I brought back some of the Wall Street Bull’s lucky charm. Life in the financial district was definitely fast paced and the New York Stock Exchange showed how mathematics is incorporated into high-stakes trading. The fairy tale aura surrounding Central Park, with its horse-drawn carriages, provided a much needed rest from the city hustle, and time to recuperate before a necessary shopping spree at Macy’s department store in Herald Square!

Everyone was raring to go to the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island the next day; it seemed we brought the British weather with us, given the dreary showers and grey outlook. However, this did not stop us from exploring New York’s rich history and learning about the harrowing experiences of immigrants at the Immigration Museum on Ellis Island and the tragic terrorist attack of 9/11 at the 9/11 Memorial Museum. In the evening, we had dinner at the Bubba Gump Shrimp restaurant and gazed up at the planet-sized billboards in Times Square – it truly is the city that never sleeps.

The final day of our trip began at Moody’s, an investors and bond credit rating company, where we had the chance to learn about the credit rankings of countries around the world and even analyse the current economic situation of the UK with the help of a member of staff. With our brains filled with new knowledge, we walked to Grand Central Terminal to have lunch, before heading to MoMaths: the National Museum of Mathematics. For three hours, we rode bikes made of irregular quadrilaterals, programmed robots and played basketball using algorithms that determined the force and angle the ball was thrown at. There were so many activities for us to delve into and I gained more insight into how nature and mathematics are actually intertwined through looking at discoveries such as the Fibonacci Sequence. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and on the 2nd April, we returned back to England with suitcases full of American sweets, new clothes and Liberty Island snow globes.

I absolutely adored the trip to New York and I recommend taking part in the coming years as it is run by an amazing team of mathematics teachers and definitely gives you a broader outlook on life. I did not see Woldingham and New York fitting together harmoniously in the beginning, but the Wolders took on the Big Apple, and I am proud to say that I was a Wolder who participated.

Milan, Year 11

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