Mathematics with education students working on outreach as part of the Mathematics Enrichment Project

We have a lively programme of outreach activities working with schools and teachers including a range of talks for schools and events. 

Outreach Activities for Schools 2022 – 2023

Mathematical Sciences run a number of events during the year for school years 5 through to 12 as well as events for the public. 
The dates for some of the events for 2022 – 23 have been set and you can find the details and application forms below.
Dates for other events will be published as soon as they are set and the information sent out to schools.
All schools within travelling distance of Plymouth are invited, via email, to attend the events. If your school does not receive information about the events and would like to be added to the mailing list please contact Dr Jenny Sharp.
Year 12 Taster Day - "What can I do with my A level Mathematics?" 
4th and 12th July 2023

We are running two Year 12 University Taster Days on Tuesday 4th July and Wednesday 12th July.

The day will consist of a number of hands-on interactive workshops on a variety of topics. There are a number of workshops covering all aspects of mathematics including pure mathematics, statistics, physics and applications of mathematics to the different areas of engineering and computing. The aim of the day is to provide your Year 12 students with a taste of what is on offer at University to those with an A level in mathematics.

More details and application form for the Year 12 Taster Days

Year 10 Mathematics Taster Days – "Why study A level Mathematics?"

Mathematical Sciences ran two Year 10 Mathematics Taster Days on 17th and 26th January  which attracted 530  students and 46 staff from 24 schools across Devon and Cornwall. The day was entitled “Why study A level Mathematics?” and the aim of the day was to provide the students with a variety of mathematical workshops to broaden their view of the subject. 

Workshops were led by staff from Mathematical Sciences and topics included The Monty Hall problem – how to increase your chance of winning a car rather than a goat, Topology – exploring the ideas of shapes, Elementary particle physics – a card game, Counting Symmetries, Guesstimation – how to make sensible estimates of large numbers, Using a WW2 cipher, Magic card tricks and the mathematics behind them, Using the capture–recapture method to estimate the number of bead in a jar and How not to be fooled by the statistics. 

The plenary session given by Dr Jenny Sharp was entitled “Money, Magic, Measures and Maps and Mistakes – what M links them all?”” which provided the students with a lot of reasons why they should consider taking A level Mathematics. The fact that seemed to have the most effect was that if you have an A level in Mathematics, “there is compelling evidence of continued wage returns of up to 11%”; working out how much this could be over your working life showed that it was about 4 years’ salary.

The Year 10 taster day will run again next academic year; details will be sent to schools as soon as the dates are set.
Year 9 Mathematics Masterclasses

Spring 2023 saw the 25th series of the Year 9 Royal Institution Mathematics Masterclasses at the University of Plymouth. 65 students from 14 schools from Plymouth, West Devon, South Hams, Torbay and East Cornwall attended 6 Saturday mornings during January, February and March. Each class covered a different topic designed to engage the students in mathematics that they will not meet at school. There were sessions on Fibonacci and the Golden Ratio (Dr Jenny Sharp), Guesstimation (Dr Martin Lavelle), Topology (Dr Colin Christopher),  Sierpiński’s Triangle (Amy Hooker from the Royal Institution), Cryptography (Dr James P Edwards) with the final session being a carousel of puzzles.

Dr Jenny Sharp started the Year 9 Mathematics Masterclass series at the University of Plymouth in 1996 and to have finally got to the 25th series after the last few years has made this years’ that much more significant. Over 1300 Year 9 students have attended these masterclasses over the 25 series, with the first ones being in their early 40’s now. It would be interesting to catch up with any past masterclass students; if you or anyone you know attended Saturday morning Masterclasses at the University of Plymouth please email Dr Jenny Sharp at

The 26th Series will run in Spring 2024; details will be sent to schools in the Autumn term of 2023.

International Physics Masterclass

The aim of Particle Physics is to determine and understand the fundamental laws of the Universe. Experimental particle physics is normally only performed by experts, who design, build and run specific experiments, and finally analyse their data to look for new unknown particles.  On the 17th March 2023, Dr Vincent Drach, a visiting scientist at CERN in Geneva, and a member of the Particle Theory group of the University of Plymouth, organised an event as part of the International Physics Masterclass series. Introductory lectures to particle physics were given by members of the  local Particle Theory group: Dr. Craig McNeile and Dr. Vincent Drach. The event was also supported by Dr. James P Edwards, and two PhD students of our group: Maxwell Gisborne and James Hancock.

Approximately 50 Year 11, 12 and 13 students from local schools, became experimental particle physicists for a day.  They used experimental data measured at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, to estimate the mass and lifetime of a specific meson particle. At the end of day, the students shared their results in a video conference, organised by CERN, with students located in Bologna (Italy), Barcelona (Spain), Prague (Czech Republic) and Suceava (Romania).  The students and their teachers also had a live visit of LHCb, a 20 metres long detector located 100 meters below ground,  in which the two proton beams of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) collide.

This event is an annual event and details will be sent to schools as soon as the date for 2024 is set.

Talks for schools

We offer a wide range of talks on mathematics, statistics and theoretical physics. These talks can be delivered online or, when appropriate, in person either at your school or as an inward visit to the University. An example of an online can be seen below.
Two popular talks are:
“Money, Magic, Maps and Mistakes – What’s so good about A level Mathematics?” which is a light hearted interactive session providing your Year 10 and 11 students with a lot of reasons why they should consider taking A level Mathematics. This is delivered by Dr Jenny Sharp.
“Why study Mathematics at University?” will give your year 12 and 13’s an insight to mathematics at University as well as looking at some of the many careers that this pathway can lead to. A number of staff within Mathematical Science are able to deliver this talk, please contact Dr Jenny Sharp in the first instance.

Resources for schools

  • Posters and leaflets
    We also have various posters and leaflets for schools. One of our most popular is the formulae required for A level Mathematics. This is available in A1 poster size (for your mathematics classrooms) or a handy A5 leaflet designed for your A level students. If you would like any posters and leaflets, please contact Dr Jenny Sharp.

  • Podcasts
    Staff and undergraduates have made a number of podcasts on mathematical topics which you may find useful in your teaching or as revision aids. You can find them on our YouTube page Mathematics with Plymouth University.

Get in touch

 To request resources, talks for schools, details about an event or to find out more about what we offer, please contact Dr Jenny Sharp.