I am the founder and Director of Maths Inspiration, a national programme of interactive lecture shows that aim to inspire teenagers to pursue mathematical subjects to a higher level. Since 2004, over 100,000 teenagers aged 14-17 have attended our shows.
The idea for Maths Inspiration grew from the experience of several maths speakers, in particular Simon Singh, Colin Wright and me. We were being invited to schools across the country to give talks, only to find an audience of 100 teenagers, some of whom had travelled an hour from other schools for a one hour lecture in an echoey school hall. It was not a good use of anybody's time. What schools needed was longer events (to make the journey worthwhile) and what we needed was larger audiences and good venues.
Maths Inspiration began with a show at Manchester's Royal Exchange Theatre in 2004. The three speakers were Colin Wright, Helen Joyce (now a senior journalist at The Economist) and me. We had two audiences of 300. The shows were a huge success. They also established the tradition of holding shows in theatres rather than lecture halls, to break the connection between maths and education establishment. Before long, the Royal Exchange was too small a venue, so our Manchester show moved a few years later to the Royal Northern College of Music's Concert Hall (capacity 500) and later their theatre (capacity 650). Meanwhile we started shows at The Criterion theatre in London, the Bath Theatre Royal, the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds and many other fantastic and prestigious venues across the country.
In the early days I was a speaker at most of our shows. These days, I speak at about one third of the shows, having built a fantastic list of speakers who are able to engage audiences of several hundred (often not very motivated) teenagers.
You can find out more about Maths Inspiration and future shows here: www.MathsInspiration.com