Knot your usual maths (Years 12 and13)

University of Birmingham
Wednesday 8 February 2023 (13:00-15:00)

Class capacity: 30

Year group: 12 and 13 

Subjects: Science and Technology

Attendee requirements: Attendees should ideally be studying A level Maths

About: This masterclass will reveal the importance of mathematics in the real world by focussing 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 via 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.

Additional information: Schools will be limited to 10 places for this class. Individual bookings can be made by students in Years 12 and 13.

To find out more about any of the masterclasses, please email

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