Issue No 10

2000 was an important year internationally for the promotion of mathematics. The International Mathematical Union designated 2000 World Year of Mathematics and as a result numerous mathematical projects were organised all over the world.

In the same year, the UK government launched Maths Year 2000 with the objective of raising the profile of mathematics by providing resources for schools, organising and supporting a series of events nationwide, and working with many other organisations in order to promote mathematics.
Maths Year 2000 Scotland Logo
The project was co-ordinated separately in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Early in 2000, ICMS was awarded the contract to co-ordinate Maths Year 2000 in Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Executive Education Department. ICMS has always had as one of its aims the general promotion of mathematics and was glad to be able to take advantage of this opportunity to promote mathematics in Scotland. Although Maths Year 2000 Scotland was part of the wider UK project, the differences between the education systems of Scotland and the rest of the UK meant that it was organised rather differently in Scotland and many new materials had to be developed. The project was launched in Edinburgh at ‘Our Dynamic Earth’ on 28 February.

Maths Year 2000 Scotland was directed by a Steering Group appointed by SEED. ICMS employed Scott Keir to work full-time on Maths Year 2000 Scotland. Scott, together with other ICMS staff, planned and organised all the events that took place during the year and developed many of the materials used. Later in the project Teresa Carr joined ICMS staff in running Maths Roundabout Workshops.

The Maths Year 2000 Scotland website can be accessed from the ICMS home page and contains details of the projects undertaken as well as links to useful mathematical sites.

The main achievements of the year were as follows:
  • The organisation of 10 ‘Maths Roundabout’ events in towns and cities throughout Scotland. These events were largely aimed at parents, teachers and children up to 15 years. Around 8000 people visited Maths Roundabout events over the year. (See below for more details.)
  • The creation of a website which contained listings of all school-level and promotional mathematical activities in Scotland, copies of Maths Year 2000 publications and links to other useful resources. ICMS also published an email bulletin every month from July to December.
  • The distribution of support materials to schools. All primary schools received booklets called ‘It all adds up’, aimed at parents of new-entry primary-school children. At the end of the year, Resource Packs for schools were distributed. There were three packs, each aimed at a different group, and they contained a substantial body of resources and material, some of which had already proved its worth in Scottish Schools and some of which was especially commissioned. These Resource Packs will form a lasting legacy of Maths Year 2000 Scotland.

Maths Roundabout

ICMS developed a flexible model for events, based around workshops, hands-on activities and displays. The make-up of each event depended on the size and age of the audience and the level of involvement of schools and parents.

Scott Keir at Maths Roundabout Scott Keir explaining different types of symmetries found in patchwork patterns at a Maths Roundabout event.

The events were as follows:
May – Galashiels (SE Scotland) – a day of mathematical activities for the whole community.

June – Elgin (N Scotland) – provision of mathematical workshops and family day activities for the Moray Science Festival.

August – Edinburgh – events and activities for the general public during the Edinburgh International Arts Festival, including an entry in the Festival Cavalcade and distribution of leaflets drawing attention to the links between mathematics and the arts.

September – Orkney – workshops and activities for a family day as part of the Orkney Science Festival.

September – Aberdeen (NE Scotland) – hands-on activities at the Family Weekend of Techfest.

September – Glasgow – participation in the Glasgow Learning Festival, involving the creation and distribution to nurseries of material for pre-school children and their parents.

November – Ayrshire (SW Scotland) – series of workshops for primary and younger secondary pupils from schools all over South Ayrshire.

November – Perth (central Scotland) – in-service day for teachers, based on Resource Pack material.

December - Coatbridge (central Scotland) – workshops for younger secondary school children.

December – Dundee (E Scotland) – workshops for 400 pupils from secondary and primary schools.


Platonic solids formed the core of several workshops and investigations developed for primary pupils as well as appearing in the Festival Calvalcade, promoting Maths Year 2000 Scotland.
The Straws and Structures workshop was especially suited to children who were not keen on school mathematics but liked to make things, exploring the ways that the regular flat shapes they produced could be fitted together in three dimensions.
The fractal workshops could be adjusted to suit different age ranges, from creating simple nested pop-up cards, to more complex activities exploring the relationship between Pascal’s Triangle and the Sierpinksi Gasket .
Hoberman Spheres were eyecatching, fun to play with and immensely popular as hands-on exhibits. (We should have negotiated a franchise and become rich!) Their expanding mechanism and construction from great circles provided an excellent demonstration of many aspects of spherical geometry.
The aperiodic nature of Penrose tiling managed to prove a challenge to children and adults alike as the final activity in an introductory workshop on the classification of tesselations.
Newspaper engineering provided an opportunity for everyone at a family event to participate by constructing components of these towers. The highest tower we achieved was at Aberdeen, where Madeleine Shepherd measured the tower at 2.90 metres. The destruction of the tower at the end of the day was also undertaken with glee!  

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