Schools Writing Prize in the History of Mathematics

Schools Writing Prize in the History of Mathematics

Every year the British Society for the History of Mathematics gives prizes for the best essays or presentations on some aspect of the history of mathematics. Our School Plus competition is done in cooperation with the  +Plus Magazine. We give awards to two age groups: 11-15 year olds and 16-19 old students. The competition is only open to those studying in schools based in the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

There will be two first prizes (£100) in the above groups, and as many run-up prizes (£20 each) as we find appropriate. As a winner or a runner-up, apart from the financial reward, you will also get a certificate, and a free BSHM subscription for a year.

2022 Prize

Submissions for 2022 are now closed. Winners will be notified after the completion of judging. Submissions for 2023 will open early in that year. 

This year we are asking you to write or make a presentation/film/song (or make a submission in any other medium) on an aspect of the history of applied mathematics. We would expect to learn something new or interesting about how mathematics and medicine for example interact, how mathematics and architecture or engineering are related. No topic in applied mathematics is off limit, but your story of course has to relate to a real historical development or event. The submissions should be around 1000 words (or equivalent) in length. 

2021 Prize

The British Society for the History of Mathematics is pleased to announce winners of its Schools Writing Prize in the history of mathematics for 2021.

11-15 category

1st Prize

Daria Gal, for her essay Mathematics and the mysterious world of creating gold, from Notting Hill and Ealing High School


Britney Zhao, The Question That Saved Manhattan: The case of Citicorp, architectural oversights and Diane Hartley, from Cheltenham Ladies College

16-19 category

1st Prize

Carys Williams, A story of secrecy and security: the key to unlocking prime numbers, Monmouth School for Girls


Abir Mohammed, Bombe: The Machine that Won Us the War, Queen Elizabeth's School, Barnet

Lina van Hunen, How the Prime Identification Algorithms Have Impacted Our Society, Durham Johnston Comprehensive School

Tatiana Piterbarg, The Development of Boolean Algebra and Its Applications, Westminster School.

We will announce a new run of the competition for 2022 in January.

Congratulations to all winners and many thanks to all participants! 

Previous years' winners

2019-2020 (11-15 category): Genius of the East, The Discovery and Application of Trigonometry, by Reyan Saeed, Chigwell School, Essex

2019-2020 (16-19 category): Godel’s Proof, by Beatrice Bannister, The Henrietta Barnett School, London

2018-19: Madi Scott, from Greenhead College Huddersfield, for an essay entitled A Proof of Euclid of Alexandria’s importance and influence within the field of Mathematics. No further prizes were awarded this year. 

2017-18: Pippa Wakelin from Kendrick School in Reading who won in the 11-15 category for her paper on the History and Uses of Infinity and Charles Austin, from Norwich School in Norwich, who won in the 16-19 category for his paper on Calculating Risk: Where would we be without the mathematics of risk?

2016-17Nicholas Munro (age 11-15  category) of the Sackville School, Kent, for an essay entitled A brief exploration of mathematical modelling, and Dougal Houston (age 16-19 category) of Godalming Sixth Form College, Surrey, for an essay entitled The pioneers of mathematics and where we would be without them.

2015-16 BSHM Schools Plus Competition was won by Chiara Falls, from Guildford UK, for an essay entitled Discovering Links Between Maths and Architecture. Chiara was presented with her prize at the BSHM meeting at Birkbeck, University of London on 21 May 2016.