Maths videos: A good watch for all or just something for a Maths teacher to use just before a Christmas break?

22 March 2011

Recently there has been a large stream of Maths and Science videos to entertain us on BBC 4. Some of these programs have managed to bring in much larger audiences than you might expect. There is no doubt that at least some maths teachers will use these programs at some point but are they worth watching in your own home.

First of all, what type of programs are we talking about? I have chosen three programs to look at to give you an idea of what is available.

The first program we will look at is “The Joy of Stats” presented by Hans Rosling. This is a lively view on the world of statistics and gives the viewer a good sense on how statistics is been used to achieve things like language translation and understanding the development of nation states. The name may put a few people off but I have found that this program appealed to quite a lot of people so give it a try.

The second program that might appeal to people is Beautiful Equations presented by non-mathematician Matt Collings. He talks to some famous scientists while discussing some of the most famous equations. Personally I would give this one a miss but if you’re an artist and you think equations explained by an artist is for you then this program may be your cup of tea.

Finally the Story of Maths. This is presented my Marcus du Sautoy and is not a one off program but rather a short series consisting of four episodes. [disclosure: I should probably state here that I’ve met him plus my wife both interviewed him in 2009 and was taught by him at university some years ago now] I think though he doesn’t have the best taste in trousers and spends too much time comparing maths to football. However he has managed to write some good books and make what I believe to be a very entertaining short series. I wouldn’t recommend his books to a general reader but for anyone really interested in Mathematics they are worth a read. On the other hand the series is presented very well and should appeal to everyone mathematician and non-mathematician alike.

Happy watching

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