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History of maths competitions for secondary school students and undergraduates

British Society for the History of Mathematics

Two competitions have been announced by the British Society for the History of Mathematics.


The schools competition invites participants to “make a case for the most important/your favourite mathematician in the history of mathematics” by either writing an article or producing a video or multi-media project.

This competition is your chance to explore how mathematics has developed and achieved its status and who were the most important mathematicians in history who contributed to it. This year we would like you to concentrate on choosing one mathematician who has, in your opinion, been the most important person, your favourite, and to make the case for it – to explain his/her mathematics and to show their importance or what you think was special about it and them.

This is run with Plus Magazine and there are two categories for ages 11-15 and 16-19. The deadline for entries is 1st September 2019. Guidance, rules, etc. via BSHM Schools Plus Competition.


The Undergraduate Essay Competition invites essays on any topic in history of mathematics of no more than 2500 words in length and is open to people enrolled as undergraduates in UK and Irish universities in academic year 2018/19. The deadline is 21st June 2019. Guidance, rules, etc. via BSHM Undergraduate Essay Prize.

Maths Journals for an engaged Sixth Former

Maths legend Colin Wright posed this question on Twitter:

It led to a flurry of interesting replies, and here’s some of them.

Education Round Up

Hello. I’m Colin Beveridge and I’m stealing Christian’s round-up introduction, since we’ve had a handful of links of teaching and learning sent our way. Let’s get this show on the road!

Travelling Salesman Movie UK screening in Cambridge

Plus Magazine tweeted to say that they’re showing the Travelling Salesman Movie chez eux in November. Tickets £7.50, 6.30pm on the 20th of November.

I thought we’d posted about the movie before but a search of the archives turned up nothing, so here’s the trailer:

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If that looks like your cup of tea (or N-tea), you can book tickets at the University of Cambridge online store.

More information

Buy tickets

Travelling Salesman Movie official site

‘Travelling Salesman’, Tuesday 20 November 2012 at Plus Magazine

Maths and Paralympic Sport in Plus magazine

Apparently there’s a parallel Olympics taking place in series with the Olympics in London.

Having done such an excellent job so far this summer, the Millennium Mathematics Project is continuing its coverage from a mathematical angle, with the Plus Paralympic calendar and the special project Maths and Sport: Countdown to the Games. For example, John Barrow discovers when investigating the different speeds of races over different distances that wheelchair racing is “not just a wheel-based equivalent of Olympic racing” but is quite a different kettle of fish.

In what flipping dimension is a square peg in a round hole just as good as a round peg in a square hole?

In what flipping dimension is a square peg in a round hole just as good as a round peg in a square hole?

Let’s start at the beginning.

My Plus magazine puzzle from March asks “Which gives a tighter fit: a square peg in a round hole or a round peg in a square hole?” By “tighter” we mean that a higher proportion of the hole is occupied by the peg.