Previous events

Sample Talks for Schools

If you or your school is interested in getting an academic to give an outreach talk, please contact us. Contact: Dr Frank Neumann

  • The Beauty of Shapes - Encounters with the Weird World of Topology (Frank Neumann)
  • I will be guiding you on a visual expedition into the weird world of topology which deals with classifications of abstract geometrical shapes in many dimensions. You will see how using mathematics we can find ways to orient ourselves in this strange world and classify all the weird shapes we encounter. You will meet lots of interesting polyhedra, tasty doughnuts, one-sided paper stripes, weird bottles, beautiful surfaces given by algebraic equations and many other animals from the topological zoo.

  • Chaos and Fractals (Ruslan Davidchack)
  • I will introduce the concept of 'chaos' and how it leads to very complicated geometric structures call 'fractals'. Fractals are very peculiar and have unusual properties. For example, a fractal can contain as many points as an interval, yet have no length. Also, the dimension of a fractal is not 1 (like a line), 2 (like area), or 3 (like volume), but somewhere in between. Finally, I will give you a recipe for how to construct fractals and you can try to construct your own.

  • Fun with Tilings and Quasicrystals (Alex Clark)
  • In this talk we look at some basic properties of tilings and explain their relationship with quasicrystals.

  • Euler's Formula (Katrin Leschke)
  • In this elementary talk, we discuss the beauty of polyhedral shapes and how to classify them using a simple counting trick via Euler's formula.

  • Infinity (Alex Clark)
  • In this elementary talk, we discuss the basics of cardinality and how to measure different types of infinity.

  • From the Hopf Fibration to the Seifert Conjecture (Alex Clark)
  • In this talk we explain how to think of the three-dimensional sphere geometrically with the aid of the Hopf fibration. Using this construction, we given an idea of the motivation behind the original Seifert Conjecture and we briefly touch on its solution.

  • Statistics, Beauty, the Golden Ratio and Mathematical Analysis (Jeremy Levesley)
  • In this talk we will look at the average ratio of proportions of the human face, and how many we need in a sample to get a good approximation to an average. We will then look at a puzzle and see how the solution to the puzzle relates to the ratio above. Finally we will look at how to compute this ratio as the limit of a sequence.

  • The Chances of Finding Richard III (Clive Rix)

  • Assessing how likely it was that we would find the remains of Richard III at the point at which it was decided to go ahead with the excavation, using a Bayesian probability approach.

  • Mathematical puzzles and games (Jeremy Levesley)
  • Many mathematicians become interested in mathematics through games and puzzles. In this talk I will introduce some games and puzzles which require particular forms of mathematical thinking to solve. It will be in workshop format with lots of interraction. Students will need to bring a pen and some paper.

  • Dirichlet's Principle: what have hairs to do with pigeonholes? (Frank Neumann)
  • We will show that obvious statements like "if you have fewer pigeon holes than pigeons and you put every pigeon in a pigeon hole, then there must result at least one pigeon hole with more than one pigeon" can be fomalized into a powerful counting argument, Dirichlet's principle, with lots of surprising applications in mathematics and daily life.

  • How big is infinity? (Nicole Snashall)
  • The question of infinity has always intrigued mathematicians. What do we mean by infinity? Are some infinities bigger than others? We will use Hilbert's Hotel to explore this subject, and investigate new aspects of the numbers we think we are all familiar with!

  • Mathematics and how to make your first million (Manolis Georgoulis)
  • Mathematicians that have solved difficult and long-standing problems have been honoured not only with immense respect from their colleagues, but also with worldwide fame. I will talk about the story of one mathematician who solved one of the most famous maths problems, which, had he solved it some years later, could possibly have won him a $1,000,000 prize. I will finish with 7 other unsolved problems that could make a millionnaire of the people who solve one of them.

  • Babylonian mathematics (Mike Dampier)
  • Studying some 4000 year old documents from Babylonia reveals how ancient the study of mathematics is, and makes us ask how we could achieve so much without modern tools.


  • 5th February 2010: Asking teachers how to develop maths outreach and recruiting co-conspirators to create mathematical wonders. The webpage is still accessible here.

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