Children playing with maths-related toys at the National Mining Museum

Maths Week Scotland 2021 programme gets underway

27th September 2021

Maths Week Scotland is marking its fifth annual event with the launch of an exciting programme of activities. Taking place across the country from 27 September – 3 October 2021, Maths Week Scotland is part of the Scottish Government’s drive to encourage positive attitudes to numeracy and maths, and is developed and delivered by National Museums Scotland.

The theme for 2021 is ‘Our World’, exploring the importance of maths in understanding and responding to the climate emergency, whilst also finding maths in the world around us. Maths Week Scotland will explore this crucial topic, in collaboration with nurseries, schools, universities, museums and other organisations.

A mix of in-person events and online sessions are planned with schools and teachers, as well as public events to inspire and intrigue a range of ages. The activities demonstrate the impact that maths has on all parts of life – from reducing the impact of carbon emissions to increasing the rise of a cake.

This year, Maths Week Scotland is supported by winner of The Great British Bake Off 2020, Peter Sawkins, in collaboration with National Numeracy. Peter will host a virtual assembly on 29 September, which will be streamed from the National Museum of Scotland to 684 P5-P7 students across Scotland. The 30-minute event will focus on the importance of maths in baking, with fun challenges provided in advance.

The schools programme is core to Maths Week Scotland, and the Small Grants Fund – a partnership between the Edinburgh Mathematical Society, the Glasgow Mathematical Journal Trust and the Scottish Government – has supported 75 activities across the country, encouraging innovation and participation.

Many of the funded activities focus on outside learning, with others concentrating on robotics, coding and electric vehicles, providing engaging and practical activities that inspire pupils to think about maths in a different way.

So far, over 65,000 pupils across Scotland are registered as taking part in Maths Week Scotland this year.

In secondary schools, maths careers sessions will take place to highlight future job opportunities in maths, including forensic science, engineering and conservation. National Museums Scotland will also launch a secondary school resource and social media campaign, #ShowYourWorking, encouraging people to share the maths in their work and careers.

New for 2021 is the Large Grants Fund, which has provided an additional £53,000 of funding for large-scale projects by eligible organisations. Key activities include:

  • the launch of a code-breaking app, which has been created by the Open University
  • outdoor air pollution projects at Aberdeen Science Centre, to demonstrate how maths and statistics can help us understand environmental issues
  • outdoor maths sessions and numeracy trail with Dumfries & Galloway Council at schools throughout the area
  • a digital workshop to explore successful navigation at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh.

Funding has also been provided to six Scottish museums to integrate more maths into their museum programming during Maths Week Scotland. Maths in Museums will see in-person maths activities taking place in: National Mining Museum Scotland, Newtongrange; Scottish Maritime Museum, Irvine; South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture; Low Parks Museum, Hamilton; Culture North Lanarkshire, Summerlee Museum, Coatbridge; East Lothian Council Museums and Gairloch Museum, Highlands.

Activity packs are available to download from the Maths Week Scotland website, with ideas of how to celebrate and enjoy the week with pupils at different levels of learning. Meanwhile, the daily Maths Week Scotland challenges will return, with accompanying BBC learning videos setting out how to tackle them.

Activities and materials are also available from STEM Ambassadors Scotland and Twinkl, the online educational publishing house, which has collaborated with Maths Week Scotland to create free, downloadable resources,

Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “I’m very pleased to see the return of Maths Week Scotland, which once again offers educational and engaging activities and events up and down the country.

“The week aims to uncover the maths we can often take for granted in our lives and consider the link that maths has with the world around us. As Scotland prepares to host COP26, I am thrilled that this year’s focus centres around sustainability and how maths plays a vital role in responding to the climate emergency.”

Katie Oldfield, Maths Week Scotland co-ordinator, said: “We’re proud to be bringing back Maths Week Scotland for its fifth consecutive year. For 2021, we have activities and events with a really important focus, which are being presented to audiences of all ages in different but engaging ways. We want to show families and schools that maths is found everywhere in the world around us, but it is also a key part of the solution when it comes to tackling climate change.

“The biggest thing for us is to encourage enthusiasm for maths and to show people that while it is a fundamental part of life, maths can also be a lot of fun. These hands on activities and the wide variety of events taking place, really offer opportunities for people to get involved and have a great time – reminding them that maths isn’t just about sitting at a desk doing sums.”

Peter Sawkins, winner of The Great British Bake Off 2020 said: “Maths is such an important part of everyday life. We use it much more than we realise – in fact, it’s the secret ingredient in all of my successful bakes! When we consider maths as part of an activity that we love, we can really appreciate and enjoy it. One of the key things to remember about maths is that practice makes perfect – and if you break it down into manageable steps, it’s much easier to handle. Just like baking!

 “I’m incredibly proud to be an ambassador for Maths Week Scotland 2021, and I look forward to seeing how people get on with the baking challenge.”

 Maths Week Scotland has a supporting year-round programme for schools, families, adults and community groups. This is part of an ongoing drive to transform Scotland into a maths-positive nation through raising the profile of maths and encouraging enthusiasm for maths across the country.

National Museums Scotland is working with a wide range of organisations and collaborators to support and deliver Maths Week Scotland activity across Scotland. For a full list of contributors and to view the whole programme, visit: