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How math is related to programming: Nadderud VGS visited Simula Learning

On April 7th, Simula Learning held a scientific programming course for students from Nadderud high school. As a part of Simula Learning’s outreach program, students got the opportunity to learn more about how mathematics is related to programming ‘Micro:bit.’

(About Micro:bit course and how it is related to math and IMO)

When people think of math, they often think of arithmetic. But if we see programming in this way, it quickly becomes an advanced calculator. But mathematics involves variables, conditions, functions, algebra, and statistics, to name a few relevant aspects of programming. These are some of the studies of mathematics that are important to solve complex research questions using programming. Mathematics gives people ways of thinking that help them acquire programming knowledge easier.

Programming could be used as a tool to gain a deeper mathematical understanding and vice versa. If one is trained in mathematical problem solving, there is an easier transition to solving programming challenges. It can help gain a deeper understanding of complex mathematical problems since one must sufficiently understand the problem to program it effectively. Programming is also a powerful tool for calculating difficult, or even impossible, calculations to solve with classic pen and paper.

During the visit, the class was introduced to Micro:bit, a block-based programming language. Since it is block-based, it is an easy introduction to code without a lot of prior knowledge of specific programming languages.

After the introduction, the students got the opportunity to test it out by trying to code a six-sided dice and rock-paper-scissors game. To do this, they needed to think about the logic in both of them. How can you make the code give you a random number between 1 and 6? Or how can you make a code that gives you rock, paper, or scissors at random? This way of breaking down the problem can provide a greater understanding of the underlying mathematics, which helps with writing the code.

The students had to use the coding library called “math”, where they could find and use mathematical operations for solving the two given tasks. This is also a library in python, which is a common programming language in scientific programming. In the last session of the visit, they got to create a code either based on given assignments or if there was something that they wanted to try out. There was a lot of creativity in the programs and games they made.

Through the Micro:bit editor, it is possible to easily switch between the block-based language and Python and Javascript text-based languages. This allows the students to familiarize themselves with text-based languages by jumping between the two and understanding how the code works.

It is important for Simula to inspire today’s youth to pursue studies in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). In addition to the Simula Learning outreach program, Simula is a gold sponsor of the 63rd International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO2022) that will take place in Oslo this summer. Simula’s mission is to solve important science and engineering problems, and mathematics forms the backbone of much of our research. As a proud sponsor of IMO 2022, Simula recognizes the exceptional young mathematicians and aims to motivate young people to pursue studies and eventually careers in STEM fields.