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nerd transcendence

September 9, 2012

The medium is the message.

Marshall McLuhan

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With the medium being stand-up comedy and the message being Numeracy, Simon Pampena aka Mathemaniac blitzed our G&T audience last Thursday with 70 minutes of hilarious spiel on all things cultural, Olympian, numeric and re-conceptual.  He also knew how to deal with hecklers.

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Students were quick to ask about the outfit and its origins as soon as they were given an opportunity (“Shut up!”).

 At the end they asked again.

Target mens’-outfitting-store jokes aside, Simon related why we failed to achieve significant distinction in the Olympics, especially in comparison to New Zealand and China. Mathematically-speaking, he tabulated the relative extent of our medal-tally returns per head of population, impressed with feats of Pi chanting, danced, sang, and shared a rationale for re-imagining Pythagoras’ theorem as a Home and Away style teaser:

Comments collected afterwards included “Awesome“, “Two thumbs up“, “He was really funny” and “I like the way he did that thing remembering Pi to….how many decimal places?“.

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CC Image source http://openclipart.org/image/800px/svg_to_png/88513/pi-blue.png

Recent action research I have been undertaking in my school shows that G&T students appreciate enrichment. When asked in a survey what improvements could be made to our program delivery, 60% of respondents claimed they loved extension; the fun stuff:

  • Last semester, we all trekked to Subiaco Theatre for a performance of Medea.
  • Debating at state level galvanised these two teams for three months:

  • Last week, it was Tournament of Minds.
  • At the conclusion of term two, we rewarded special programs – not just G&T –  with an on site Laser Skirmish after-hours on the school oval, and we added DJs, a bouncy castle wrestling-platform, and a BBQ.
  • In first term, year 8s participated in the Perth International Arts Festival Home Sweet Home project.
  • Add to the mix: Scitech exursions, trips to Fremantle Jail, serving as student ambassadors for Beacon, Engineering challenges, conferences, Race Around UWA, plus various Science workshops at both UWA and Curtin; these are the icing and sprinkles on our G&T cake.

Yes, these students know how to have fun.

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And so does Simon.

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That’s Chelsea beneath the Pi hat, and she was the most vocal heckler on the day; this is fantastic for someone who recently achieved a distinction in the Australian Mathematics Competition.

Together, we are learning how to achieve nerd transcendence.

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