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Get aboard Underground Mathematics!

A new-look underground map has been unveiled by the University of Cambridge, to help teachers navigate their post-16 students’ journey to new levels of mathematical understanding. Through inter-connected ideas and techniques, Underground Mathematics offers resources to teachers of mathematics to inspire practises which move away from a modular structure and reflect the broader aims of the new A Level.

Underground Mathematics, funded by the UK Department for Education, provides a collection of free online teaching resources arranged in a network of five thematic tube lines: ‘Number’, ‘Geometry’, ‘Algebra’, ‘Function’ and ‘Calculus’, housed on a new interactive online platform.

Underground Mathematics travellers can disembark at 23 topic stations, many of which connect two or more thematic lines. For instance, the ‘Quadratics’ station connects the Number, Geometry and Algebra lines.

The University of Cambridge’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education, Graham Virgo addressed the audience of teachers, academics and supporters at the launch saying: “I am incredibly proud of Underground Mathematics and the hard work and vision of Lynne McClure, Martin Hyland and the Underground Mathematics team. It’s initiatives like this that would have given me a different experience of mathematics at school, and I hope the work of Underground Mathematics will be able continue for a long time. The resources will have significant impact on many teachers and students alike, and long may it continue.”

The resources combine problem solving, mathematical reasoning and fluency to stimulate curiosity, introduce students to new ideas, and encourage them to pose questions, reflect and collaborate, all valued aspects of mathematical behaviour and learning.

At the Underground Mathematics stations, teachers will find a range of teaching resources with notes to support their use in the classroom, and additional insight into problems with suggestions for alternative approaches and links to other areas of mathematics. Teachers will be able to access bundles of resources, supported by webinar recordings, to help them use the materials most effectively in the classroom, and can visit the ‘Pervasive Ideas’ wheel for mathematical ideas which permeate topics throughout A Level mathematics, such as Transforming, Symmetry and Averages.

Lynne McClure, Co-Director of Underground Mathematics, said: “Underground Mathematics resources are not aimed solely at those students wanting to attend the University of Cambridge; they are for every A Level mathematician. They encourage and support students to think like a mathematician and so will enhance and improve both learning and teaching in A Level classrooms.”

Martin Hyland, Professor in Mathematical Logic in the Department of Pure Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics at the University of Cambridge, and Co-Director of Underground Mathematics concluded: “Everyone has to understand mathematics for themselves. It takes a long time to develop students’ mathematical knowledge, which is why it is so important to show the connections between the subject. We must bring out mathematics beneath the surface of rote learning; that’s where real mathematics lies and that’s what we are trying to do with Underground Mathematics – bring real mathematics above the surface.”

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