Last Saturday I was in Leeds city centre busking. I’m not a juggler or musically gifted. Instead I was maths busking. This is a fairly new activity in the outreach of mathematics – it is just over a year since it was first tried. The concept, as explained on the website http://mathsbusking.com/ is simple:
Maths Busking aims to show the public the surprising and fascinating side of mathematics through the medium of street performance.
I had had a training day last month and worryingly for me that’s considered enough to go out on the streets. Our team of about ten, consisting of undergraduate and postgraduate maths students, teachers, sixth formers and various university types such as me and my colleague Ruth, was highly visible as you can see from the picture at the top.The morning session was a hard, surprisingly not many people wanted to stop their shopping and do some maths. However, as I got better at approaching and performing I was able to show people how to make an emergency pentagon.
The afternoon session was easier. The sky was not so grey and stopping the good people of Leeds to show them some maths became more natural. The escapology routine called Zeeman’s Ropes was particularly popular.
The day finished with a quick “show” which included mind reading and the chance to win ten pounds. Thankfully Rufus, a highly experienced busker, successfully played the game of Nim so that he didn’t lose the money borrowed from me for the performance.
If you are interested in seeing a show (or even finding out how you can become a busker) then go to the website. [The list of performances looks to be out-of-date though.] Get the newsletter! Fancy a newsletter keeping you up-to-date with maths news, articles, videos and events you might otherwise miss? Then sign up below. (No spam and I will never share your details with anyone else.)