Developing Mathematical Creativity

Stage: 2, 3 and 4

What does creativity mean to you?

Perhaps you think of painting a beautiful picture, or composing a song, or writing a poem.  But did you know that you can be creative while doing maths?  Mathematicians will tell you that their subject is also a very creative one. 

Here are some of the things that creative mathematicians do.  They:
  • ask good questions
  • link ideas from different areas of maths
  • spot patterns
  • make conjectures
  • find new ways to use skills they have learnt
  • find new ways to 'see' maths
  • find examples
  • invent new ways to show their thinking
  • are not afraid to take risks
  • are curious
  • keeping trying even when things go wrong
  • don't give up.

Our creativity activities are a little bit different from the maths you might be used to doing at school and more like what real mathematicians do.  In school, the teacher often takes you step by step, until you can tackle a really hard problem yourself.  Here, we sometimes offer you a challenging problem and it's up to you to find a route through to a solution. We invite you to be playful, to explore, to try things out and to choose for yourself the directions you take.  We're hopeful you might enjoy exploring for its own sake and experience the beauty of maths.  We have given you some starting questions to investigate but we hope that you will also think of your own mathematically interesting questions to explore.

We hope you will send us some of the creative maths you do, as well as sharing stories of your creative mathematical adventures.