This year the Department of Mathematics and Statistics ran Maths Circles and Junior Maths Enrichment sessions in the University. These sessions were open to 5th and 6th class primary students and 1st, 2nd and 3rd year secondary school students. The aim of these initiatives was to provide an open and creative environment for students to explore mathematical topics and investigate new ideas. The material covered in the sessions often would not be approached by students until leaving certificate or university classes, but was delivered through games and activities which made it accessible to all. Classes were divided by age group, or in some cases ability, and were held on Monday and Thursday evenings. During Semester 2 of 2017/18 over 100 students attended each week.
As the end of the semester approached, tutors were sent out to primary schools to deliver sessions. The focus was primarily on DEIS schools whose students would not have the means to travel to Maynooth, with sessions being run for 5th and 6th class students in their classrooms. There was a hugely positive response from students, parents and teachers about both the school and university based sessions. In a feedback form given out at the end of the year, when asked what was the most important thing learned in the sessions, one student replied "maths actually does involve fun". The Department of Mathematics and Statistics hopes to run the initiative again next year and reach out to even more students and schools.