Saturday, 20 February 2016

MathSoc's take on Adopt a Charity week: EPS University Challenge

From February 1st to February 7th, the University of Birmingham held its annual ‘Adopt a Charity Week’, an initiative launched by Carnival Rag for the first time last year. The week was packed with events organised by some of the University’s societies to raise money for a selection of charities they had chosen to support. I met up with Sarah Graves, president of the MathSoc, who organised the enterprising EPS University Challenge for Adopt a Charity Week to raise money for Teenage Cancer Trust. 

This year, MathSoc participated in Adopt a Charity week for the first time. MathSoc decided to host an EPS University challenge as they thought it would be a great way to get promotion for Adopt a Charity Week. MathSoc committee members had a range of different quiz ideas for the evening, however, they all opted for a University Challenge. The University Challenge was much easier to promote when other people could recognise it.  Sarah Graves, president of the MathSoc, proposed hosting this enterprising event to raise money for Teenage Cancer Trust, a charity closely connected to her. Last year, her friend was in hospital with Hodgkin lymphoma. Teenage Cancer Trust played a very supportive role for her friend during this time. As a result, Sarah knew that any money the
MathSoc could raise would definitely be going to a good cause.

The organising of this enterprising event began as far back as November 2015! The MathSoc began promoting the event via setting up a Facebook group. Also, television screens in the Guild promoted the event and the Carnival Rag Facebook page promoted the challenge. Within the School of Maths, the Head of Education fired off emails, encouraging students to both participate in the challenge and to come as spectators. It took Sarah a good six hours to find all the questions for the quiz!

The MathSoc reached out to all the different EPS committees to encourage them to participate. On the night of the actual challenge, there was a 16 team format. It was a very tense night! 9 EPS societies went head-to-head in front of Sarah, the host (aka Jeremy Paxman the 2nd). MathSoc, JUGS, ChemSoc, PPS, BUCES, WISE, EESE, UB Racing and CivSoc battled amongst themselves through a first round, consisting of 8 head-to-head battles, a quarterfinal, consisting of 4 head-to-head battles, a semi-final and a final. The spectators were very much into the game, with audible boos and cheers depending on which team won. However, the best team won, with ChemSoc achieving a much deserved victory in a heated final round with MathSoc! To top off the night, MathSoc raised £292.96 for Teenage Cancer Trust from hosting the event!

What enterprising skills has Sarah gained?

Sarah told me that the University Challenge was quite different from other events MathSoc has organised as this required long-term planning. Most other events, such as nights out, were just organised a few weeks before. However, this took months! Also, she definitely feels her public speaking skills have improved. She was not, initially, meant to actually host the event. So when she was told she had to host it at the last minute ‘it was quite scary’.  She’s had to do her share of public speaking in the past, but it’s never been anything quite like hosting a game show. Nevertheless, she said she would definitely take up the opportunity again. Knowing that her participation was going to an amazing cause helped her to pluck up the courage to do it!
The MathSoc’s committee members also improved their collaborative skills as they had to work with other societies and the Guild in the run up to the event. They had to ensure that they constantly communicated with Carnival Rag in order to update them on their progress.

Overall, Sarah definitely feels her role in organising the EPS University Challenge has equipped her with transferrable skills. Her position as MathSoc president, requiring much organisation and leadership, has given her a range of experience to talk about in job interviews. It has even helped her to secure her finance graduate scheme at Barclays!

- Pavinder Bhangu
  Student PR Team

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