An Ideas Man
Some say they’re for ‘bogans’, I disagree
Many of you in readerland know that when I’m not working as Clark Kent as I type this column, my Superman alter-ego (J) spends his time behind the school gates, often in front of teenagers (amongst varied jobs on campus) spruiking the merits and wonder of all things Mathematical. We’ll get back to that shortly.
Driving home last weekend from the Knee of Syd after the City 2 Surf (dodging snow!), I again marvelled at the giant statue that greets you upon entering Bathurst from the East. The Big Gold Panner. We’ve admired him for thirty years. Built in 1979, he proudly stands over 5mtrs tall. Envious. I do love all those ‘big’ things around our wide brown land, and we visited a lot of them in the 90s. The Big Prawn in Ballina, Big Funnel Web at Jamberoo, Golden Guitar in Tamworth and of course the most famous of all – The Big Banana at Coffs Harbour (my gran bought me the t-shirt at age 6, I wore it until it fell apart). Down in Kiama, those wags built a 5 metre by 1m ‘statue’ to protest against the lack of recycled water – yep, A Big Poo. Sure, we have an awesome Big Flag as you enter Orange, but it doesn’t have that same ring as a Prawn, Guitar or even a Giant Poo, does it? Could we do better? I reckon so.
Whilst our City is called Orange (after the Prince, etc), we’re not exactly known for our citrus delights. So, a Giant Orange on the outskirts of town to greet the tourists as they drive in won’t work. But then, neither would our ‘signature’ fruit, the apple. That’s already been done in places like Batlow, Tassie and New York. Which brings me back to maths.
Whilst not all young learners agree about the ‘wonder’ of maths, those of us with chalk in our hand continue to fight the good fight when it comes to promoting the awe of Trigonometry, Calculus and Exponential Growth and Decay. The topic just covered with a bunch of 13 year olds was “Ratios, Rates & Scale Drawing”, in which we explored the thrilling speeds achieved in both km/h and metres per second by Usain Bolt himself. One of the questions in their quiz also gave them a tiny drawing of the new ‘attraction’ in town, and they had to work out how big it would actually be if we built it there near the Big Flag. What is the new statue you ask? The Big Wine Bottle, of course!! On their quiz, the scale drawing was just a few cm on the page, and their conversion gave it a massive real-life height of 19.5m! It would be seen for miles on your way into town! We’d have the most famous ‘big thing’ in all the land. Wait a minute, you say, isn’t there already a big wine bottle in both the Hunter Valley and in Daly Waters in the NT? Pfffttt, at just 5m and 3m respectively, our 19.5m big bottle of booze will dwarf all others.
We weren’t promoting the forces of alcohol in class, before you ask. The students were able to see it was all about the promotion of our wonderful little town of Orange. Now, to the other ‘big’ questions. Red or White? Pinot or Chardonnay? Perhaps a replica ’98 Cabernet from my fave place just out of town (you know who you are) would be the ticket. Anyway, as I did my best to turn the Padawan learners into Mathematical Jedi Masters, one said “A Big Wine Bottle on the edge of town? You’re an ideas man, Mr T”. Indeed. Royalties my way please.