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nerd transcendence

September 9, 2012

The medium is the message.

Marshall McLuhan


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.


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?“.


CC Image source

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.


And so does Simon.


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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