Dr Jeanette McLeod and Dr Phil Wilson (pictured), Te Pūnaha Matatini investigators and the co-founders of Maths Craft New Zealand, have been awarded the 2019 New Zealand Association of Scientists (NZAS) Cranwell Medal for Science Communication.

Jeanette and Phil, mathematicians from the University of Canterbury, have been on a mission to rid New Zealanders of their maths phobia since launching Maths Craft NZ, a non-profit initiative, in 2016. Maths Craft aims to celebrate the links between mathematics and craft, showing people of all ages how fun, creative and beautiful maths can be, and to demonstrate what it means to think like a mathematician.

As Director and Deputy Director of Maths Craft, Jeanette and Phil have brought maths to the masses. More than 11,000 people from a diverse variety of backgrounds have now attended the regular free Maths Craft festivals and workshops, making it the largest maths outreach programme in New Zealand.

“With maths often seen as boring or scary, Jeanette and Phil have introduced thousands to a colourful alternative reality – of patterns, grand ideas and art, said Murray Cox, incoming co-director at Te Pūnaha Matatini. “Telling the real story of maths in new and exciting ways that are characteristically their own, Jeanette and Phil have a special ability to engage everyone – from toddlers to teenagers to tīpuna. The award of the Cranwell Medal recognises their unique contribution to New Zealand’s public science scene.”

Priscilla (Cilla) Wehi, incoming co-director at Te Pūnaha Matatini, agreed. “Jeanette and Phil are two extremely talented mathematicians and ingenious communicators who have inspired many people around New Zealand, including me, to learn more about maths,” said Cilla. “I’m thrilled to see their wonderful work recognised with this award.”

Jeanette and Phil have written dozens of freely-available instructional handouts to be distributed at Maths Craft events. Furthermore, they have trained and mentored many volunteers and team members, trained teachers, given public talks, and collaborated with other researchers to determine the efficacy of their approach.

Te Pūnaha Matatini has been a proud supporter of Maths Craft since its inception.