The British Society For The History Of Mathematics – Activities For Schools 

Do you like to incorporate the history of mathematics in your lessons? Perhaps you want to include more historical context and are searching for new ideas to do this effectively.    

If you are looking for simple ways to enrich your teaching, then the British Society for the History of Mathematics (BSHM) offer some brilliant activities to help inspire your pupils.  


BSHM Schools Prize in the History of Mathematics 

Every year the BSHM run a Schools Prize which is open to 11-19 year olds. (With two awarding categories, 11-15 year olds and 16-19 year olds.) 

In 2023/24 the theme is:  

Non-western Mathematics (i.e. the indigenous mathematics of Africa, the Americas, Asia or Australasia.)  

The submission format is extremely flexible and pupils can submit a presentation, film, song or essay. As a rough guide, essays should be around 1000 words in length and video or audio content should be around 5 minutes in length. The deadline is 28th June 2024. 

Link to the BSHM Schools Prize 

There are so many different ways that the BSHM Schools Prize can be used with your students – it could form part of a lesson or it could alternatively be used as an enrichment opportunity in a maths club or similar context.   


HiMEd Lecturers - Invite a History of Maths Speaker into your school   

The BSHM also has a group of HiMEd Lecturers who are able to give fun interactive talks for schools. HiMEd Lecturers are appointed for a period of one year, up to a total of five years, and so the list of speakers may change from year to year. HiMEd lecturers give their talks for free, but schools may need to cover travel expenses. This should be discussed and agreed with lecturers in advance. Many lecturers will give their talks on-line if they are based in a location which is a long way from your school.  

Speakers normally list potential History of Maths topics for you to choose from, but many are also open to suggestions from schools. As an example, the current HiMEd Lecturer Deborah Kent gives a list of her previous topics: 

  • Air and equitable division, cake-cutting 
  • Solar eclipse expeditions 
  • Omar Khayyam’s constructive solution to a cubic equation 
  • The life and mathematics of Sophie Germain, public key encryption 
  • Infinity  
  • Ada Lovelace and the first computer programme 
  • The sphere-packing problem, from Sir Walter Rayleigh to the Fields Medal 
  • Using mathematics to understand the natural world 

If you are interested in inviting a HiMEd lecturer into your school, then check out the Current HiMEd Lecturers Page

Each HiMEd Lecturer will also create resources linked with their talks, which could include online recordings, PowerPoints or worksheets. These will be uploaded to the BSHM website for teachers to use as a free resource.   


Summary of Links and Resources 

The British Society for the History of Mathematics 

Schools Prize in the History of Mathematics 

HiMEd Lecturers for Schools:  

BSHM on Twitter/X: Follow @mathshistory 



Keep up-to-date with the latest Maths Scholarships news:

Find us on Twitter InstagramLinkedInYouTube, and Facebook.

Join our mailing list or get in touch Here.