Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

Mini-researchers save Earth with geometry and algorithms

Photo: Pixabay

How do you get children interested in mathematics? You develop a game where the participants must use their mathematical and logical sense to save the Earth from disasters such as mudslides, tsunamis and hurricanes. Associate Professor Kasper Green Larsen has been involved in developing the new mathematics and computer science course for the Science Club (Videnskabsklubben), which will be rolled out in the autumn of 2021.

 -   Welcome, researchers! Earth is in serious danger. A small black hole has opened up in our solar system and it threatens to wipe out everything we know.

The above may sound like the beginning of a doomsday movie, but it is the beginning of one of the seven teaching sessions in a new course on mathematics and computer science from the Science Club.

In the new course, Danish children from 5th and 6th grade will be part of the UN's international research rescue team and try to save Earth from a series of catastrophic events, all of which are caused by a black hole that creates various "anomalies" around the globe. Volcanic eruptions, tsunamis and hurricanes are just some of the extreme events that mini-researcher must try to avert. To help themselves, they have the best tools of science at hand, namely collaboration, critical thinking, hypotheses, experiments and experiments.

Algorithms can solve many everyday problems

Approximately half of the tasks in the new course are based on mathematics with a special focus on geometry, while the other half emphasizes computer science and especially algorithms. Even though the two subjects seem different on paper, mathematics and computer science in the real world cannot really be separated. They each have their own strengths, says associate professor Kasper Green Larsen, who has helped to develop the content of the new course.

Kasper Green Larsen
Associate professor Kasper Green Larsen. Photo: Tariq Mikkel Khan.

 - What is special about computer science for me is that we can use our mathematical ideas and translate them into computer programs that solve problems for us. So computer science is actually extremely creative. However, there can be no computer science without mathematics. Everything that goes on inside a computer is based on mathematics, and a strong mathematical understanding is necessary to invent algorithms, says Kasper Green Larsen.

Primarily, Kasper hopes that the mini-researchers through the new course will understand that computer science via algorithms, and the idea behind them, can solve many problems that we encounter in everyday life and in society.

Read more about the course [in Danish] at: https://www.videnskabsklubben.dk/matematik