Hey readers,

It’s-a-me, Kerryn, writing my very first blog as one of your 2023 Content Creators!

I’ve been a huge fan of the Inside Word for a long time – those life-at-University tales are just so intriguing. And now as a proud UoA student, it’s time for me to share my own tale…

One that brings us back to 2022… before I technically started University! So, say hello to the marvellous course that calls itself Maths 199: Advancing in Mathematics (MAX).

As part of the Young Scholars programme – designed for high school Year 13 students looking for a challenge – I had the opportunity to experience the University of Auckland months ahead of my peers. There’s so much to tell, so many highlights! From lectures in an actual lecture hall, to awesome professors sharing their knowledge, cool new friends, and even a pizza party at the end of it all, the Young Scholars programme was quite the rollercoaster.

Lecture hall

The legendary lecture hall

Well, instead of raving, let me tell you a bit more about Maths 199!

Firstly, as per the namesake, it’s a course all about MATHS. If you love mathematics – that is, love to spend your time solving integrals and calculating nth-degree polynomials, then this course is for you! If not, no worries! By the time you’ve finished the course, you’ll be ranting about mathematics to your friends.

Friend: So, how was the course? It was boring, wasn’t it? Math is dumb.

Me: How dare you! Mathematics is much more than you think. It’s not just calculation, but a universal language, a problem-solving tool, an art of abstraction. In fact, mathematics is everything, and everything is mathematics. You were saying?

Friend: …

So, prepare to have your mind blown! Forget the mind-numbing algebra of high-school. At Maths 199, you learn everything from cryptography (read: become a hacker!) to modelling real-life situations such as a Covid-19 epidemic (very eye-opening), and even proving why electrons are actually little corgis (all will be explained!) It’s a mix of Engineering, Computer Science and good ol’ mathematics, all rolled into one neat course.

Math Art

They say math ain’t art

Math Mapping

Map-making 101

Math Biology

Biology, anyone?

And it’s not just math either. If you love coding, congratulations. You’ve already passed half of the Maths 199 course. If coding is anathema to you (like me), fear not! The lecturers, again, will turn you into a proficient programmer in no time. You’ll go from running away from scrolling green text, to tackling problems head-on like hackers in Hollywood.

In Maths 199, it’s not just boring websites year after year, or dull lessons about copyright that miraculously cure your insomnia. Here, you learn about adding numbers to infinity, decrypting top-secret text (hint: prepare to get rick-rolled), predicting the future (be an oracle?) and colouring maps (no, it’s nothing like kindergarten!).


Be warned.

Covid modelling

Stay ahead of Covid


Crack secret government codes

Sounds interesting yet? But wait, there’s more! You’ll get a chance to meet some of the greatest teachers ever, Paddy and Peter. Meet Paddy, hailing from the Mathematics faculty, the creator of Maths 199 and the man who literally wrote the entire 182-page coursebook from scratch! Be warned, though, of any links Paddy sends. They could very well be rick-rolls – trust me, I’ve had experience!


And then there’s Peter, hailing from the Engineering faculty. Peter’s a man of many talents, with juggling on a unicycle being one of his everyday routines (alongside teaching, of course!) If you can’t sleep, fear not! Peter’s here to save the day, with a soothing voice guaranteed to bring you sweet dreams.


Sadly, while Paddy’s taken a break to do some research (who knows, maybe he’ll be the next Einstein or Hawking?), Peter’s promised to step up and take over fully, meaning you’ll be able to spend glorious hours in the presence of the talented lecturer. Sounds fun? You’ll enjoy it 🙂

You might think my raving’s over, but sorry to disappoint! There’s more, the blessing of friendship. In Maths 199, there’s a wonderful opportunity to meet people, and for my NCEA comrades, find out why Cambridge sucks! We even adopted Rick Astley as our unofficial class mascot – courtesy of an unexplainable rick-roll obsession…

2022 Class

Class of 2022

And lastly, come for the experience. You’ll be learning hidden knowledge not even your friends know (“Impossible.” – Thanos). You’ll be mastering the ins-and-outs of University facilities, while your peers are still figuring out what PhD stands for. If you’re like me, you could even spend hours exploring the Campus (be your own tour guide!)

Engineering building

The fancy Engineering building

OGGB building

‘The Fridge’ aka. the Owen G. Glenn Building

Explore the OGGB (read: ‘The Fridge’), or the fancy Engineering block, or even the General Library, a treasure trove of knowledge. Maths 199 even gives you a Campus Card – essentially, you’re now a University of Auckland student! Check out the University’s first-year catered accommodation – as a proud resident of the best hall in the country, Waipārūrū Hall, words cannot tell you what an amazing experience it is (but a photo blog can, maybe coming soon!)

What’s there not to like? Well, there’s one big elephant in the room, of course – money. With all the teaching and resources and support, there’d be no way it could happen without money. I’ll be blunt, my fees for Maths 199 in 2022 were just short of $1,000. It might seem like a huge amount of money – and yes, it is – but it’s worth every cent! You’ll only be Year 13 once, and it’s an opportunity and experience like no other. Who knows, your school might even offer to pay half (make sure to ask about STAR funding!)

And don’t forget, there’s the delicious pizza party at the end!

Pizza party

If I’ve managed to convince you, apply! This guide here is a fantastic resource: https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/science/about-the-faculty/department-of-mathematics/courses-programmes/max.html. If you want to know more, you can message the friendly Young Scholars team or leave a comment below! I’ll try my best to answer them promptly.

Thanks again – I’m super honoured to have this opportunity to blog on the Inside Word.

Until my next post!

~ Kerryn He-Burch