Yesterday was the twentieth birthday of NRICH. Actually, it’s more accurate to say that yesterday was the day NRICH chose to celebrate its first twenty-and-a-bit years. Toni Beardon said it was actually nearer twenty-one, and since she founded NRICH I’m happy to defer to her. Who would have thought that the little project she set up would have survived twenty years, yet alone become the brand leader in investigative and problem-solving mathematics to become what it justifiably calls “The Home Of Rich Mathematics”?
After all, plenty of other organisations with vastly better funding have disappeared from the face of the earth during that time, not least several versions of the National Curriculum. NRICH has always had to live from hand to mouth, and the search for sponsors and supporters is never-ending. Yet the ideas and the productivity never fail, and even those teachers in my school who see themselves as least enthused by maths know that https://nrich.maths.org is the place to find ideas.
There were about fifty of us at the Centre for Mathematical Studies in the sunshine. Like all good parties we got a goody bag. There were several presentations, and things finished off with drinks and cake on the lawn. In between we did a bit of mathematics on an intriguing NRICH problem, and most of us still haven’t yet managed to fold two strips of paper to make a star. It was a splendid occasion and I enjoyed every moment.
I can’t remember when or why Toni whistled me up to get involved with the infant NRICH, but it may have been through the masterclass I gave regularly to Cambridge pupils – RI in NRICH indicates the Royal Institution link. It was a few years later that this connection led me to be invited to speak at the Institution itself – standing at the iconic desk in the lecture theatre was one of my greatest thrills.
I must have been to CMS on at least a couple of dozen occasions. Several were in connection with another NRICH initiative, television series to schools in the UK and Pakistan. Others were planning sessions for yet another Toni Beardon / NRICH spinoff, the AIMSSEC courses for teachers in under-resourced schools in South Africa. Still others were to work with the NRICH team themselves; they are the best people in the world to work with – if only all in-service groups were as positive and appreciative!
It’s been an honour and the greatest of pleasures to be associated with NRICH for so long. We heard that the latest batch of funding has been secured, so we can all look forward to more initiatives and ideas for a good while yet.