Dear D

Dear D,

I am very happy to hear that you find joy in maths and are doing so well at it in school. I have had a long think about what to recommend for you and have come up with a few starting points. I have chosen a few different types of resources; some magazines, some rich maths problems, some books, and a couple of study programs that you can work through. I hope that some of these widen your experiences of maths and also perhaps allow you to connect with the wide network of people who love maths too!


I would start with suggesting that you read about what other people are up to in the maths community, you might discover some things that don’t come up in normal school curriculum. Here are a few suggestions, they are sort of aimed at about a-levelish maths knowledge, so I think you'd have no trouble accessing them.

Within the MMP (the umbrella organisation under which NRICH, where I work, falls) we have PLUS magazine, it aims to introduce readers to beauty and the practical applications of mathematics.

"Plus provides articles and podcasts on any aspect of mathematics, covering topics as diverse as art, medicine, cosmology and sport, a news section, showing how recent news stories were often based on some underlying piece of maths that never made it to the newspapers, reviews of popular maths books, and puzzles for you to sharpen your wits. We have a regular interview with someone in a maths-related career, showing the wide range of uses maths gets put to in the real world. And all past content remains available online, which besides making for good browsing is, we hope, a useful resource for maths school students and teachers."

Chalkdust is another great maths magazine from some students at UCL. The Crossnumber puzzle is lots of fun and I have learned all sorts of weird and wonderful things whilst working on it!! (They also have a print version that they’ll send you for the cost of P&P.)

"Chalkdust is a mathematics magazine. It’s not a journal, and it’s not a textbook. It’s a collection of articles, features and pictures that we think are interesting, fun, or thought-provoking. Chalkdust is a place for five-minute articles over coffee, and fiendishly hard puzzles that will entertain you for a week. It’s a place for interviews with interesting people around our field, and getting relationship advice from dead mathematicians. Chalkdust is a place you can publish your own research. Not something that should go in a journal, but maybe something small, cute, or just not original enough, but that you still think should be shared. If you’ve enjoyed learning it, show everyone why it’s so great."


There is loads of good stuff these days on YouTube. You might have come across the numberphile channel before, little nuggets of maths explained by a variety of mathematicians. Ben Sparks talking about the Chaos Game is lovely. I would also recommend Vi Hart's Doodling in Maths Class series as I think she is fab.

Interesting Rich Problems:

NRICH's past features contain problems around a theme and are excellent ways of exploring particular topics in more depth and in different contexts. We publish solutions that have been sent in and these are a great way of seeing how other people try problems as there are often lots of different ways of approaching a problem or representing a solution. Here is a nice set of problems about powers that you might like to have a go at and another about surdsIrrational Arithmagons is a particular favourite of mine!

Advanced Problem Solving Modules:

If you are looking for something a bit more structured, our old advanced problem solving modules are quite excellent! They sometimes expect knowledge of particular a-level topics so don't worry too much if some bits are topics you haven't covered yet.


I don’t know if you are interested in coding but if so I have been putting together an intro pack about solving maths problems using python. If you would like to have a go at them and be my guineapig that would also be fab. I have picked out some interesting maths problems from NRICH, and written a few short programs to get started with. If that sounds like something you might like, pass on an email address to me and I can ping over a copy.


When I am doing maths therapeutically I tend to gravitate towards geometry. I follow a few people on twitter (Ed Southall and Vincent Pantaloni) who often tweet excellent geometry problems and they are just about to published a book: Geometric Snacks. I have preordered a copy and I am really excited about receiving it. I am going to recommend it because if it is anything like their twitter stuff then it’ll be good!!

I am currently reading Matt Parkers Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension. It is excellent, funny and informative. Also if you fancy a bit of mathematical colouring you should have a look at Alex Belloss Snowflake, Seashell, Star.

STEP Support:

Finally, in the not too distant future when you are looking at university choices, if you are thinking about studying maths it is worth bearing in mind that a few UK universities request STEP. There is an online STEP support program for students who don’t have support in their schools. it has resources, problems, worked answers and a discussion forum run by Cambridge undergrads.

I hope that some of these things might provide a starting point. If anything in particular captures your interest then let me know and I can try to find some similar things!

All the best,


  1. edit: From Twitter someone recommended the website. I personally did enjoy some problems from their 100 day challenge:


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