Hi Andy! Please could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your job?
My name is Andy; I’m a software developer at DoodleMaths. My job is to write in a language that both computers and humans can understand.
It’s a bit like learning a foreign language but with a computer programming language, you can make make animations, music, games, websites, apps or even a dancing robot! With this language and along with a team of other developers, I help build DoodleMaths and make sure you can earn doodle stars everyday.
Why do you think maths is important?
Maths is all around us and we use it on a daily basis without even thinking about it.
Let’s think what a day would be like without any numbers. We would wake up late because the alarm clock wouldn’t know the time. We can’t check our phone, we can’t watch any telly or listen to the radio. We could already be late for school by now, but wait, what day is it? Is it even a school day? Without numbers we have no idea of the time, day, month or even year. We haven’t even had breakfast yet and the day is already rubbish.
It doesn’t matter if you are a genius or struggle with maths, we already use it everyday!
How do you use maths in your job?
What’s your favourite number and why?
Maths is a developer’s best friend and it’s used in everything we create. We use algebra, calculus, geometry, trigonometry, mathematical logic, statistics and probability and much more.
‘01000001 01101110 01100100 01111001’. This seems a bit of a long number doesn’t it? When a computer reads words, it converts each letter into a bunch of numbers. Although the number above looks random to us, to a computer it spells my name. This is called binary code; you can see what your name looks like in binary code below:
Source: Science Friday, ‘Write Your Name in Binary Code’, https://www.sciencefriday.com/educational-resources/write-your-name-in-binary-code/.
Do you have any advice for someone who might find part of maths tricky?
Thank you Andy!
When I started school, I didn’t have anything like DoodleMaths to help. Smartphones and tablets were not invented yet and we didn’t even have internet! I sometimes found maths really tricky because we had limited ways of learning which I struggled with.
Nowadays there are so many great ways to learn maths. If you find something difficult, you can watch videos, check out helpful websites, use apps or ask a teacher for help. Never be afraid to ask a question; even if you think you should already know something, it’s always best to ask.
If a school wanted to ask a coder to visit their school, what advice would you give them?
Developers inherently have a love of learning. Curiosity and inquisitiveness are fundamental traits that developers are eager demonstrate to get others excited about their craft.
The introduction to coding I received in school resulted in a passion that I continue to follow today. I highly recommend getting in contact with a local software development / Education tech company or university.
How do software developers use maths?
If Andy is designing an animation, he will need to consider how the image moves across the screen. For example, say we have a rocket which needs to move from one end of the page to the other. He’ll have the first image and will set the co-ordinates for where it needs to start. He will then specify a time and exactly where the rocket needs to end up so the image knows where it has to go and how long it has to do it.
In DoodleSpell, the Wizard Lizard has lots of spells and if you’ve tried moving one across to your cauldron, you’ll have seen that it moves in a similar way to real life so if you drop it, it falls in the same way and bounces slightly! Andy will divide the distance the spell has to travel by the time it has to fall in order to find the speed at which it moves. We also need to take into account any other objects around the spell: does it bounce off something in the way?
We have things called databases which hold all of the information from every child using our apps. This works out at around 92 million rows of data – just from the questions! From that, we can work out things like the average number of questions answered over the past three months, or how long it takes 7 year olds to answer their questions.
All coding language requires the use of symbols, such as ‘<‘ and ‘>’. For example, if you score less than 75% on your X-a-day questions then you’ll be asked if you want to improve your score – using these symbols helps us to determine what should happen next.