this is a picture story, so be prepared to see many pictures! And it is an adventure too, since we (I will explain later who is “we”) tried something quite new: an interactive highly technical mathematical exhibition in Senegal, including a road show with high school students and Master maths students, talks, conferences, workshops and discussions, and games! And: all in three days!
The day before the opening of the exhibition and the start of the roadshow. And my first day in Senegal. I arrive around 1:30 am in the morning and spend the night in Dakar. At 11:00 I am picked up by a car from AIMS-Senegal, who is organising the event together with the Next Einstein Initiative and IMAGINARY. In the car, I meet two other international participants: Niane Kode from Senegal, who works at AIMS-Cameroon, and Marcos Cherinda from Mocambique, an ethno-matematician, who also attended the AIMS-IMAGINARY workshop in 2014. We drive to M’Bour, the city, where AIMS-Senegal is located (the base of all our activities), it takes about 2 hours.
In M’Bour all over the place, we see announcement posters for the event! And also on the big screen at the main roundabout, there is a digital advertismenet for it (but I could not take a picture), WOW!
At AIMS-Senegal, I meet Alba Malaga, a mathematician from Peru, but working in France now. She is here with her daughter Luz. Alba is also one of the main coordinators of IMAGINARY-France and she spent the last days planning the event on site with the AIMS-Senegal team. On the left with the green short: Marcos Cherinda from Mozambique.
We spend the whole afternoon installing screens, preparing logistics and finally also training the local students (all maths master students at AIMS-Senegal). They will be in charge to guide the visitors through the exhibitions. The training is done already in the main exhibition tent, where 15 screens, several touch screens and more technology is already installed (thanks to Mohamed Diallo, the mastermind behind all the IT infrastructure of the event). And the most important: do you see the nice T-Shirts they made! The logo is prepared by Bianca Violet, you can find the picture (also for downloading) at this gallery.
On the right you see the other master mind and the main coordinator of the event in Senegal: Amadou Tall, the academic program director at AIMS-Senegal. He just arrived from Dakar with the high-quality printed images for the exhibition. They have been stuck at the customs: the custom people could believe that maths is so beautiful and claimed that these art pure art pictures, we are willing to sell and make big money. Finally Amadou could convince them (showing him some equations attached to the images). Btw, besides Amadou Tall, there was also Michael Kateregga from South Africa (Next Einstein Initiative) in Senegal. He was one of the other main organisers, together with Rosita Yocgo (alsoNext Einstein Initiative), who unfortunately could not come to Senegal. I will see, if I find a picture of Michael and display it later (or further down).
With the students we also plan the road trips. On Day 1, a first bus is planned to leave for Saint-Louis and many students want to come along (it is a several hours drive to the North of Senegal).
We get up at 6:30, to start with the final preparations. At 9:00 the first schools are expected to come with buses, bringing hundreds of students to visit the exhibition. The last pictures are mounted.
And the first bus and school is arriving.
The director of AIMS-Senegal is opening the exhibition!
Several film teams and the media is present.
And from now on the big interaction starts!
The program you see is called Cinderella (freely available).
The program you see is called Dune Ash (freely available). It is part of the Mathematics of Planet Earth exhibition (MPE), as some of the other exhibits shown too. The idea of MPE is to show how maths can help to understand and help solving/predicting problems we currently face on our planet. Together with the UNESCO, we are planning to organise a series of exhibitions in African countries. See here for some details on this project “UNESCO-MPE-IMAGINARY”.
AIMS-Senegal prepared a great chart with the 17 equations that changed the world. You can find the PDF files with the equations and explanations here: English version, French version. The AIMS students explain details of these equations to the high school kids.
Some programs also run in 3D with 3d glasses, like a 3D flight through crystals (and their mathematical structure) or a program to visualise geometry in 3D.
Another of the “international” visitors is War Khadim. He is a mathematician currently working at ICTP in Trieste. He came to present 3D sculptures and 3D printing (see further down for details). He is from Senegal.
One of the really great programs is SURFER, where you can enter a polynomial equation in 3 variables and immediately visualise its algebraic surface (all points which satisfy the equation in space). It is a great tool to see how form and formula are connected, or better: how maths and art are intertwined! You can download SURFER for free!
This is 3D_XplorMath, an amazing program to visualise all types of geometries! They also call it a virtual museum of mathematics. You can download it from the 3D_XplorMath website.
A participant from South Africa (originally from Togo), Komi Affassinou, brought 3 big boxes (a 20 kg) along with tons of hands-on-maths games for all levels.
With Cinderella you can create your own symmetrical shapes (changing some sliders and parameters you can transform the classic Platonic Solids).
This is Crystal Flight, an interactive 3D flight through crystals (put your seat belt on, and your 3D glasses). The program is also available for free download.
This picture reminds me of my former philosophy professor (teaching the “origins of science”). He always said: we can do science, because we have hands!
This visitor enjoys the IMAGINARY film station. This is the film “The Epita-Dodecahedron“.
See all films here: www.imaginary.org/films
The AIMS students do not only explain the programs and games. No, they are true speakers and politicians and ambassadors and storytellers. All about mathematics, their studies and everything around.
It is noon, and time to start the first “Road Show”. About 30 students and international experts hop on the bus (with the AIMS-Senegal Roadshow logo)and drive to Saint-Louis. During the drive: we have animations, stories, mathematical riddles, games and music!
And dancing (but only on the way back).
We arrive at Gaston Berger University in Saint-Louis, the former capital of Senegal. The heads and professors of the maths department welcome us and show us the great University.
Our arrival was already announced to the students.
We meet the students and make our road show into a “spontaneous exhibition” with games, speeches and a lot of discussions.
When we got back (around 1:30 am), a delicious Senegalese dinner was waiting for us:
Day 2 stars with buses arriving again with school kids to visit the exhibition. But today, we take one full school class along on our “Road trip”.
Together with AIMS students, the school students and the international event time, we drive to Dakar and take the boat to Gorée Island, known for its role in the Atlantic slave trade. It hosts a museum and several slights connected to this sad part of history. But Gorée also hosts the best girls college of Senegal, which is our destination!
At the college, more than 100 science-thirsty students are waiting for us. We prepared an entertaining program with talks and discussions on geometry, interactive maths, mathematical pattern weaving and 3d printing!
Marcos Cherinda gives an interactive talk on “mathematical weaving”. He shows many examples of traditional African patterns and techniques how to eave/create them.
At the end of his talk, he also shows 3D-weaving (how to make a simple cube, without glue!). All visitors get coloured strips and together cubes are woven.
War Kadim presents his talk on 3D printing, a new technology, which attracts the whole audience! He has many 3d printed mathematical models with him and shows them to the public. After his talk, many questions come up (everybody is curious about the potential and possibilities of this new technology). At ICTP, they investigate ways of producing these 3d prints in an affordable (very cheap!) way. See this paper for details.
A spontaneous speech by Daniel Tiedjo, who is in charge of the AIMS maths teacher training programme in Cameroon. He was (as we all) very emotional, seeing the curious students with a lot of good questions!
And here again: all participants receive an AIMS-IMAGINARY T-Shirt! (I found out that they had to print new ones, since the originally printed 1500 T-Shirts run out quickly).
A spontaneous painting, to show their love for maths!
The last day again brings students and exhibition visitors (bus after bus). Only today we have 35 degree centigrade! I show some pictures of the great exhibition room, with a gallery of mathematical images by Herwig Hauser.
Today the film team takes individual interviews of all participants!
We reserved several hours for a small workshop, where feedback is gathered and new AIMS-IMAGINARY and general maths outreach activities are discussed. We also discuss how Mathemafrica.org can (and should) be more part of all our future activities, and also that all participants should write something about their experiences on Mathemafrica.org . This is my blog entry!
The highlight is the “handing-over” of the initiative to AIMS-Cameroon – they are planning a next event with teacher training, exhibitions, talks and more (even again a road show) in Cameroon in October 2016! And here you see Michael (Kateregga), the second on your left (after Amadou Tall). The third person is Daniel and next to him Kode (both AIMS-Senegal).
Thanks to all organisers for this wonderful experience! I am looking forward to being back in Senegal, a beautiful and extremely friendly country!
I will be back in March 2016 for the Next Einstein Forum, and also I am happy to help planning the AIMS-Cameroon adventure!
It was the first time in my life seeing Baobab forests. Beautiful!
And on the very final day, just before leaving, I was lucky to quickly enjoy a Senegalese Atlantic ocean swim. The water was 28 degrees warm! The nice beach is just around the corner from this picture (I did not take the camera along for swimming).