MathsCity - The UK’s First Maths Discovery Centre 

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MathsCity is a brand new hands-on Maths Discovery Centre which has recently opened in the centre of Leeds. It is a perfect destination for a school trip and contains over 30 hands on exhibits such as the Ring of Fire, Giant Kaleidoscope and a Soap Bubble so large that you can actually stand in it.

Until now you would have had to travel as far as MoMath in New York or the Mathematikum in Germany to get a taste of this type of hands-on mathematics, as MathsCity is the first Maths Discovery Centre to open in the UK.  It is the result of many years of hard work from the charity MathsWorldUK who have a longer term aim of developing a full size Maths Discovery Centre.  MathsCity is a substantial new attraction in its own right and it is an exciting first step towards the longer-term goal. 

What are the exhibits like? 

From the moment you walk into MathsCity you will be struck by the buzz of people having fun doing mathematics. All the activities are hands-on and it is wonderful to get stuck in and have a go. When it comes to the exhibits everyone has their own personal favourites, but examples of activities include:

A full list of the MathsCity exhibits can be found here

Who is MathsCity suitable for? 

Lots of visitors centres and museums make the claim that they are suitable for everyone from age 1-101, which is sometimes stretching the truth.  In the case of MathsCity, it is genuinely accessible to all age groups due to the fun hands-on nature of the exhibits.  A toddler could enjoy fitting together the pieces of the Soma Cube (even if they don’t complete it) just as much as a Year 9 pupil (who may have the added satisfaction of finishing the puzzle).  

MathsCity is also accessible in terms of mathematical understanding – there is only a small amount of text with each exhibit, as further mathematical background material is provided on the website.  This means that visitors can draw their own mathematical conclusions without being told completely what to think.  MathsCity has a positive welcoming vibe and mathematically hesitant or even fearful pupils will feel at home and will hopefully start to see mathematics differently. As well as being highly accessible, there are some really deep mathematical ideas in MathsCity, it caters for everyone – maths enthusiasts definitely included!

What is available for schools?

School parties of 20 or more pupils will get the exclusive use of the venue which is a great bonus for teachers and pupils alike.  The maximum number of pupils is 40 plus staff, so MathsCity is perfect for one or two classes. The fact that the exhibits are so fun and engaging means that MathsCity is suitable for all pupils – not just the top sets.  School tickets are currently priced at £4.50 (Oct 2021) which also makes this an affordable proposition for schools.  

School parties are additionally offered an exciting free workshop which means that a typical visit will last around two hours.  This is a great length of time, as it means that local schools can fit the visit into a half day, whereas schools who are further away may have time to get there inside school hours.  

Are there any resources available?

On the MathsCity website there are resources associated with every exhibit.  It is up to teachers how they use them – but it opens up a lot of possibilities once the trip is over.  For example, pupils could make a presentation or poster about their favourite exhibit or they could even come up with their own exhibits which build on what they have seen.

What will my pupils gain from visiting MathsCity?

Seeing mathematics outside the classroom can help pupils to see mathematics in a completely new light.  MathsCity is such a different environment from school – there is no curriculum, there are no tests and everyone is just having fun with maths and enjoying it for its own sake.  Even being able to handle mathematics rather than write it down can bring the subject alive for many pupils.  Lot of the exhibits will also spark interest in the wider world of mathematics with lies outside of the traditional curriculum. 

Building fun memories around mathematics can be important for your pupils – getting the coach, going into a city, all these enjoyable things will boost positivity among pupils.  Most teachers know intrinsically that maths enrichment has benefits, and a visit to MathsCity builds on all the great work that is already happening in schools, whether it is running lunchtime maths clubs, or enrichment activities within lessons.

What if my school is further away – is it worth visiting MathsCity?

MathsCity is unique as the only hands-on Maths Discovery Centre in the UK, which means that it has appeal way beyond the Yorkshire and Humber Region.  Many English departments organise long distance trips to Shakespeare’s Globe because there is nothing like it anywhere else in the country.  There is certainly a strong case for schools to visit MathsCity from beyond Yorkshire, and if you can convince your Head Teacher, then there are many other attractions in the Leeds City region which could complement your visit.  MathsCity is also a lot closer than visiting MoMath in New York!

Can I visit in my own time?

MathsCity is also open to families and the general public – you just need to book your tickets in advance.  As a teacher it will also give you a chance to check it out before you book your school trip.

Further Links 

To find out more visit the MathsCity website, or their Facebook page.

By Hazel Lewis