Scottish Mathematics Masterclasses 2021

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Scottish Mathematics Masterclasses 2021

 Mar 20 2021

ICMS was delighted to support the online delivery of the 2021 Scottish Mathematics Masterclasses.

This was a series of five extra-curricular classes for talented S2 students, organised and offered by the University of Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh Napier University, the University of Glasgow, and the Open University. These interactive classes are designed to stimulate, stretch and encourage young people in the art and practice of mathematics, and to help pupils to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills. Classes are led by experts from academia and industry, and cover a broad range of mathematical topics.

Every Saturday morning, a different speaker was invited to share their favourite part of mathematics, which could be an interesting game they've played, an aspect of their cutting-edge research, a magic trick, or an unexpected connection between maths and another subject.

To find out more about opportunities for schools by the University of Edinburgh and sign up to the mailing list for future events please visit this webpage.

Pupil Nomination

All Scottish secondary schools were invited to nominate up to five S2 pupils to take part in the series. Parents cannot nominate their child directly, but are encouraged to speak to their child's teacher if they are interested. Pupils should be selected based on their enthusiasm for mathematics and their work ethic rather than purely on their mathematical ability.  Nominations are now closed. If you are a teacher and you wish to submit late nominations, please contact Francesca Iezzi (



  All participants  were required to sign up to the code of conduct in advance of the meeting. The code of conduct is available here.  Meetings will be held on Zoom.


Joining instructions were emailed to registered participants in advance of the Masterclasses. 


Completed Masterclasses


13 February


Gavin Reid   (Heriot-Watt) 

What are the Chances?! 

Many events in our world are uncertain, from tossing a coin to winning the lottery. We'll look at how we can mathematically quantify the uncertainty of some everyday events (and their combinations) using probability theory, and explore a peculiar mathematical problem based around a game show!


20 February

Charlotte Webb, Rebecca Rosenberg (Open University) 

Cryptography challenge 

Cryptography is the art of creating and solving codes, from Egyptian puzzles to modern computer encryptions. Cryptographers have influenced events throughout history, including the Bletchley Park codebreakers who cracked the enigma code in World War II. In this interactive workshop, students will work against the clock to crack codes and decipher messages.

Charlotte and Rebecca provided some resources after the masterclass.  These have been emailled to registered pupils



27 February

Francesca Iezzi (Edinburgh) 

The Mathematics of Art 

Maths and Art are often seen as completely different subjects but there is more that connects them than you might think!  In fact, Mathematics has influenced many artists both in ancient and modern times, from Celtic Art to Islamic Art, from Leonardo to Esher. In this class we will see some examples, and you will have a chance to get creative and make your own mathematical masterpiece. 


6 March

Chris Guiver (Napier)

Areas, lengths and shapes 

We shall explore the properties of areas and perimeters of shapes - from the familiar to the (hopefully) new. There are lots of practical situations where we would like to know the area or perimeter of a shape, but we shall see that computing these quantities is not always so straightforward. The mathematical concept of infinity crops up with some rather unexpected consequences. The session will contain some presented components from me, and some time for practical activities for the participants. I hope to see many of you there.



13 March

Steve Roper (Glasgow)

Polygons in Nature

Have you ever wondered why a beehive has hexagonal cells? Why not triangles? Why not pentagons? In this class we will think about some properties of polygons and polyhedra and see how they might be used to think about beehives.


20 March

Basel Barakat (Napier University)

 Does maths exist in the real world



The Scottish Mathematics Masterclasses are inspired by the Royal Institution Masterclasses, and partially funded by the Glasgow Mathematical Journal Trust.