Department of Mathematics

Outreach activities available on or off site

We have a variety of activities, workshops and talks available to schools, colleges and other interested parties. They have all been designed for a range of age groups (either Key Stage 3, 4 or 5, A-level students or the general public) and are presented by members of the Department (either a researcher, research student, postgraduate or undergraduate student). Most of our activities can be presented either at the University of Sussex or possibly in an alternative location (unless stated below, and if within a reasonable travel time of the University).

To keep up to date with all our activities and upcoming events, please email your name, position and school/college to

Please note:

  • All our activities are free.
  • We are flexible! If you have an idea for an activity or talk not listed, please get in touch and we will do our best to accomodate you.
  • Multiple activities can be done during a single visit.
  • We may limit the number of times that we visit a particular school per academic year (depending on size), to enable us to visit as many schools as possible.
  • All our activities are suitable for Key Stage 4 and 5 (e.g. GCSE and AS/A-level/sixth-form) students, and some are suitable for the general public.
  • Please give us as much notice as possible when requesting an activity to ensure that we have enough staff available on the day. This is especially important for larger events (more than 25 students) which will require more than one member of the Department to assist.


Primary school activities and workshops

The Infection Game (1 hour, KS2/3)

Primary school pupils work with our epidemiology activtityPrimary school pupils with our epidemiology activtity

A fun game introduces children to the mathematics of infections and how they can spread across cities, countries and even the world. This involves plotting basic graphs and multiplying by zero.

Penrose Tiling (1 hour, KS2/3)

Photo of Penrose tilesPenrose tiles

Students learn about symmetry, tessellation, and two-dimensional geometry. Activity involves making tessellations of two polygons, learning about Penrose tiling, exploring geometric transformations, and investigating different properties of polygons. Students use geometric shapes to sort, classify, and create patterns.

Secondary / A-Level activities and workshops

The Great Race (1 hour, KS3/4)

Great Race Outreach ActivityStudents will learn about probability and relative frequency in the context of 'The Great Race' - a horse race where the horses move forward depending on the outcome of a dice roll. Students will decide which horses are more likely to win, which horses cannot win, and why. The activity is suitable for KS3 students, either as an introduction to probability, or to reinforce concepts already learned.

Networks and Infections (1 hour, KS4/5)

Networks Outreach activityStudents will learn about network theory and how this branch of mathematics can be used to understand how infections can spread - and how they can be prevented from spreading.

The Monty Hall game and problem (1 hour, KS3/4)

The Monty Hall problem originates from a TV game show, where contestants have to guess which door a new car is hidden behind and avoid choosing the two doors containing worthless prizes. After the contestant chooses a door, one of the booby prizes is revealed, and the contestant is given the opportunity to select the other door instead. But should they stick with their original choice, or swap? Fortunately, mathematics can advise us on the best course of action! In this practical, students get to play the game and then study the maths behind the puzzle.

Magical Möbius Strip (1 hour, KS3/4)

In this activity you will explore some fascinating surfaces, which can be constructed out of a sheet of paper and learn about their properties.

Topology & Möbius Strip (1 hour, KS3/4)

To give you a better idea of topology, imagine that you draw a circle with a dot inside it on a rubber sheet. No matter how you stretch the rubber sheet, and change the shape, size and measurements of the "circle" the dot will always remain inside the figure. These alterations are called continuous deformations.

Single & Double Pendulum Motion (1 hour, KS3/4)

Chaotic Pendulum Outreach ActivityIn this activity students investigate how length, mass and angular displacement affect the period of a simple pendulum, and how motion of a double pendulum is affected through angular displacement and mass. Students test one variable at a time, using manual techniques (protractor, stopwatch, weights, etc). Data is graphed and compared, to determine what variables affect period (single pendulum), and full revolutions (double pendul um).

The Maths of card tricks (1 hour, KS3/4)

There are lots of fun mathematics behind card tricks, and in this workshop students get to discover them first hand!

Geometric shapes (1 hour, KS3/4)

Geometry is an important branch of mathematics, and in this workshop students get to experience the surprising results of geometry first hand.

Interactive maths puzzles (1 hour, KS3/4)

We have a wide variety of maths puzzles available to try out on your students!

How many? Estimating numbers (1 hour, KS3/4)

There are numbers mathematical ways to estimate populations, whether it is of how many aircraft are in the sky at any one time, to the number of tigers left in the wild. Here, we introduce several methods and get students to play out some examples. For example, the Capture-Recapture method can be used for estimating population sizes, and students get to try it out for themselves using ping pong balls in a container!

Round Robin Activities


What you should see is that your rattleback is quite happy spinning in one direction (either clockwise or anticlockwise), but if you spin it the other way, it objects. It will start to rock, and then rattle, and then - amazingly - it'll stop spinning, and simply rock back and forth like a see- saw. If you're lucky, it will even start to rotate the other way.

Double Pendulum

Double PendulumDouble pendulum

The double pendulum is made of a simple pendulum, with another pendulum hanging freely from the first pendulum. The equations which describe the motion of a single pendulum are well defined so it could be easy to make the mistake of thinking that the double pendulum will move in a simple way as well.

Galton Board

Galton boardGalton board

The Galton Board (also known as a quincunx or bean machine) was invented by Sir Francis Galton to demonstrate some important concepts in probability. The board consists of a triangular array of pegs. Balls are dropped in at the top and bounce downwards, left and right before being collected at the bottom. If you drop enough balls in, then they will form a bell shaped curve like the one below.

Soap Wire Bubbles

mathematical minimal surface area bubbles problemMathematical minimal surface area bubbles exercise

Dip the wire frames into the soapy liquid and when you put them gently out you should be left with a variety of surfaces which have formed inside the wire.

Travelling Salesman

Travelling salesman boardTravelling salesman board

The travelling salesman problem is a classic problem which has been studied by mathematicians for nearly a hundred years. The problem is simple. A travelling salesman has a number of towns he wants to visit, before finishing where he started out. What is the shortest path he can take? One option would be to try out all possible routes and then compare them to see which is the shortest. This quickly becomes too difficult, with 10 cities there are 3,628,800 possible routes, for 100 cities it would take a computer 40 million years to compare all the routes!