Teddy Rocks Maths Essay Competition 2021: The Winners

After a long wait, I’m incredibly excited to announce the winners of the second annual Teddy Rocks Maths Essay Competition as follows:

Overall winner

Rick Chen ‘Into the World of Roulettes’

“An insightful and entertaining look at a lesser-known branch of mathematics. Beginning with a simple geometrical example, we see how the theory of roulettes can be developed with the tools of calculus to solve some of the most fundamental problems in nature – such as the shape of the fastest path under gravity.”

Student winner

Caitlin Moeran ‘The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in Art

“A well-written and thought-provoking look at the work of famous artists through the lens of mathematics. Not only do we learn of the links between maths and art, but also the details of the mathematics that helps to make the paintings so appealing to the human eye.”

College Choice Award

Megan Thomson ’The Tower of Hanoi’

“A traditional problem cleverly explained, and developed further to show its connection to other branches of mathematics. The informal tone and friendly voice of the writing really helped to engage the reader – I know I was certainly left wanting to read more!”

Commended Entries

I have also selected a list of commended entries that formed part of the original shortlists for the two prizes (presented below in alphabetical order).

Arushi Ramaiya ‘Does the way we speak about maths affect our perception of numbers?’

An enlightening and interesting look at a topic I had never previously considered.

Ellis McKenzie ’The Lorentz system and why truth is always stranger than fiction’

An exceptional use of visuals and interactive tools to help to bring the subject matter to life. 

Gavin Bala ‘A brief exposé of p-adics’

An advanced area of maths which is well-explained with an innate sense of curiosity throughout.

Lola Barron ‘Prime Numbers – what we know’

The history of prime numbers explained better than any textbook I have ever read!

Nicolas Wiedersheim ‘Elo and Glicko standardised rating systems’

A very informative account of a topic I had no previous knowledge of – I learned a lot!

Philip Kimber ‘Maps and Projections’

Interesting from both a mathematical and historical perspective in equal measure.

Rita Di Ciancia ‘The Mathematician and the Artist’

An incredibly thorough piece of writing that could easily be found in an academic journal. 

Ted Fussell ’Turing Machines: the death of formalism and the birth of Computer Science’

A fascinating look at how mathematics gave birth to the field of Computer Science. 

Yashvir Tibrewal ‘Interesting Shapes: Why is a donut equivalent to a coffee mug?’

A difficult branch of mathematics explained with clarity and helpful visuals to aid the learning process.

“With over 130 entries, the competition was fierce not only in terms of numbers, but also in terms of quality (as you can see from the rather extended list of commended entries). It was an absolute pleasure to read each and every one of your essays – they were engaging, exciting, entertaining, and I learned so much about so many diverse areas of mathematics I had never previously thought about. I hope you all enjoyed the process of writing your essays as much as I enjoyed reading them and your passion for maths burns brighter than ever. A huge thank you once again for taking part, and I look forward to hearing more from each of you as you continue to develop as mathematicians.”

Dr Tom Crawford

The winning entries will shortly be published on the St Edmund Hall website, and all essays mentioned here will be published in full on my website over the coming weeks for you to enjoy. Direct links to each post will be added as they become available. 

All entries can be found in the essay showcase here.


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