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EngageU Recognition of Distinction for Maths Busking

Maths Busking, Leeds City Centre (photo by Kevin Houston)The Maths Busking project recently won a Recognition of Distinction at the EngageU awards. As one of the Maths Busking team, I’d like to shout about this, so here’s a quick interview I had with the project’s director Sara Santos about the award and the project.

What is Maths Busking?

Sara: Maths Busking is a new form of mathematics communication via the medium of street performance.

Maths Busking is also the name of the project that develops mathematics routines suitable for street entertainment. We train people to perform, manage the network of performers and promote the project. Maths Busking was founded in 2010 by myself, Matt Parker and Steve Humble. I am the director of Maths Busking. The three of us are the core training team.

Since 2010 we have trained more than 200 performers, from researchers to school students. Our most dedicated performers are Katie Steckles, Rufus Roberts, David Schley, Alec Rispin, Ben Nuttall, Kate Potter, Ben Sparks, José Fonseca and Lucy Sayce.

What are the EngageU awards?

It was the European competition for best university outreach and public engagement. The EngageU Awards are part of a wider initiative from ULab dedicated to rethink the Univerisity of the future.

Sara Santos performing at Ashtead Village Day

How did Maths Busking get entered for the award?

We submitted an application with support from the University of Manchester.

What did you win?

We won a Recognition of Distinction, which means we are in the top six projects in Europe. The jury valued our established training programme designed to increase the body of performers, our contribution to enabling others to do Maths communication was a strong point in our application.

The physical award, a beautiful glass piece, is in my office, the HQ for Maths Busking.

Did you attend an awards ceremony?

Yes, it was a fabulous meeting event, I learnt about the other winners. The award ceremony was hosted by the Oxford Internet Institute, and it ended with a fabulous college dinner.

What next for Maths Busking?

Maths Busking is offering all universities in the UK the opportunity to train their research and teaching staff in performing Maths routines, and offering schools the opportunity to train their staff and students too. We believe that by providing a large proportion of the population with Maths Busking training we are contributing to the much-needed cultural change towards Maths: we want to see more people sharing Maths curiosities as a pastime, embed it in social interaction and make it easier to Maths lovers to ‘come out’ and share their passion.

We are also expanding overseas: we have performed in Krakow to highlight the 6th European Congress of Mathematics, and in Lisbon.


Maths Busking will be performing at this year’s British Science Festival in Aberdeen. For more information about the Maths Busking project, visit their website.

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