On 14 March 2022 the ‘International Day of Mathematics’ will be commemorated. Here is how AIMS South Africa and the Centre International de Mathématiques Pures et Appliquées (CIMPA) celebrated last year’s edition with a video game: Quest of the Lost Fields Medal.
14 March is proclaimed by UNESCO as the International Day of Mathematics (IDM) or Pi day. The theme for this year was focused on “Mathematics for a Better World”. AIMS House of Science and the Centre International de Mathématiques Pures et Appliquées (CIMPA) celebrated the day with a Virtual Treasure Hunt Video Game – Quest of the Lost Fields Medal.
The video game was developed specifically to make mathematics accessible and enjoyable to the broader community. Most importantly, it was meant to provide students and/or researchers from developing countries an opportunity to showcase their mathematical science communication skills.
What the game tasks players
The game challenged participants to imagine that a fields medal was stolen in Brazil during the 2018 International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) 2018. Then the CIMPA/AIMS best agent was sent to retrieve it. The agent was tasked to meet 10 international students/researchers who witnessed the crime. The students/researchers gave the agent clues on the condition that the agent solved a Mathematical Riddle.
Eight students and researchers (crime witnesses) played the role of welcoming the agent. They had to be creative and design a 5-minutes video that looked like an adventure for the agent/player to make the game fun. They had to introduce themselves, the mathematics subject they like and present the agent with a riddle of their choice. The riddles were supposed to be understandable by the general public.
Eight best contributing videos
Eight best selected videos contributions were from Fernando René Martínez Ortiz, Ulises Velasco and Zamantha Guerrero, México; Iness Kyapwanyama and Florence Owino, South Africa; Zahra Kharaghani, Iran; Victoria OKESIPE, Cameroon; Nantenaina Milliarde Randrianasolo, Madagascar.
The selected students/researchers were awarded graphic digital pen tablets for their outstanding video contributions.
Learning experience, popularizing math
Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19 when filming the videos, the students/researchers indicated that participating in the game was a great learning experience and appreciated the opportunity provided to popularize mathematics.
“It gave me new ideas of things that can be done to make math seem more…[than what is perceived] to the public. I might try to do it more often. It is very important to show to other people that Mathematics is essential to human development despite it (math) seems invisible. The Treasure Hunt Game has shown me that there are many interesting ways to attack this problem,” one of the students said.
Fun and interesting game
Those who have played the game already have found it interesting and fun. Below are some of their testimonies about the game.
“Wooow! amazing videos, I’m solving the problems, I like the different ideas and enjoy the challenges; so, I think that all of these problems are difficult, but we need to solve difficult things to exceed expectations.”
‘This is a good concept for my school as physical activity. The search for the field medal. Any proposal on this will be appreciated.”
“Now more than ever is important to popularize mathematics using different platforms and tools available and emerging. It is without a doubt that mathematics continues to transform the world to make it better…..Treasure Hunt game is one of the activities to make mathematics fun and accessible to many.”
This article was first published by AIMS South Africa on 6 April 2021.