Maths Through History

Maths through History is a project that aims to share the excitement of mathematics in everyday life with children and young people through the use of the Museum’s extraordinary collection of mathematical instruments which reach back through 1,000 years of history.

The project aims to:
•    develop a series of workshops supporting the maths curriculum in schools from Early Years to Key stage 4 levels 
•    inspire young people to connect maths learning in the classroom to practical use in solving problems in everyday life such as navigation, time telling and computation.
•    provide support for students who find mathematics challenging by engaging children in kinaesthetic learning experiences such as object handling linked with music, drama and art.
•    provide cultural and academic connections for young people with the University of Oxford, supporting the aspirations of those who might not otherwise consider university or applying to Oxford.

Workshops for schools

early years shape and number 171127

Early Years: Shape and Number

This workshop was piloted in November 2017 with a group of 30 children aged 4-5 from Cutteslowe Primary School: ‘pitched perfectly for the children’s age range and linked beautifully to the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum’


nhm and mhs by john cairns 26 10 18 195

Key Stage 3: Ingenious Geometers

This workshop engages students with objects and stories about navigation to investigate the practical application of geometry. 



Work in progress

Further workshops for Key Stages 1 and 3 are currently under development. We welcome the input of teachers. Contact us if you would like to be involved by emailing with ‘primary’ or ‘secondary’ in the subject line as appropriate.


Public events


Lovelace’s Labyrinth

In October 2018, the project’s first public event was held as part of IF: Oxfordshire Festival of Science and Ideas.
Over 800 people attended and enjoyed an exciting range of activities from testing their skills as navigators and discovering unusual calculators, to exploring early measuring devices and inventing algorithms.


The Museum would like to thank all those who have made this project possible through their generous donations in response to the online appeal.

List of site pages