Knot your usual maths

University of Birmingham
Wednesday 6 March 2024 (13:00-15:00)

This fascinating masterclass will reveal the importance of mathematics in the real world by focusing on two specific areas of Topological Design: the topology of networks and topological optimisation. Topology refers to the properties of objects which remain unchanged when stretched, twisted, crumpled, or bent without tearing, gluing, or closing holes. For example, did you know a coffee mug is a doughnut? If you had a rubber-like material, could you show this? We intend to explore these complex ideas with the help of two engaging practical activities:

  1. The first activity will challenge students to organise themselves into groups, forming connections based on specified rules
  2. The second activity will challenge students to produce the lightest cardboard bridge possible while sustaining the weight of a toy car, by only cutting material away instead of adding it. 

The first activity introduces students to the topology of networks by exploring flow from one person to the next generated by certain rules, while the second places them in the position of a topological optimiser as they manually undergo the process behind the mathematical tool known as topological optimisation. To accompany these activities, the class will include short presentations to illustrate the significance of topology in varying scientific disciplines as well as demonstrate that a PhD is an achievable goal to aspire to in the future.

Who can attend this masterclass?

This event is open to Year 12 and 13 students preferably studying Maths at A level, but this is not essential. Explore the rest of our masterclasses for more fun learning opportunities.

View all masterclasses

Questions? Email the team