MWUK Participation in the BIG BANG Science Fair and the Leeds Festival of Science

The Big Bang Science Fair (described as the ‘largest celebration of science, technology, engineering and mathematics for young people in the UK’) took place at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham from 11th – 14th March 2015. The following week on Saturday, 21st March 2015 the Leeds Science Festival took place at the University of Leeds.


MATHSWORLDUK participated on all four days in Birmingham and in the Engineering Experience section at the Leeds Science Festival. At each venue there were two specially commissioned interactive exhibits – the Parabolic Bounces and the Tautochrone, and at Leeds there was an additional display of mathematical (geometric) models of viruses together with a hugely popular associated model-making activity involving origami. The activity on viruses was developed by Professor Reidun Twarock and her colleagues at the University of York (see details of Gresham College lecture below).

Many hundreds of enthusiastic schoolchildren, their teachers and their parents visited the MWUK stalls at each venue. These stalls were manned by the MWUK Executive Committee Members supported by some senior volunteers, and undergraduate and postgraduate students from Imperial College, The University of Oxford, and the universities of Leeds and York.


The Leeds City Council provided funding to commission an official evaluation report of the two events. Interviews were conducted with visitors to the MWUK stalls for the whole of each Saturday at the two venues. There was enthusiastic support for the idea of an interactive museum of mathematics. The large majority of respondents felt the MWUK exhibits offered a different perspective on mathematics, that they were interesting and fun, and that they enabled them to learn something new. One parent at the Big Bang said ‘this (the MWUK stall) is the best thing in the whole show.’ A child at the Leeds Science Festival said ‘ I am six and I like this a lot!’ An adult visitor said ‘Maths normally seems very dry. It’s great to see maths applied.’

Photographs taken at the two events can be found in the Galleries section of the website.

A related event: The London Mathematical Society in conjunction with Gresham College is hosting the following lecture:
Geometry: A new weapon in the fight against viruses by Professor Reidun Twarock, University of York
Date and time: 20th May at 6pm
Venue: Gresham College, Barnard’s Inn Hall,
Holborn, London EC1N 2HH.

Jack Abramsky
4th May 2015

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