You are here: Home Activities Maths Heroes

Maths Heroes

Here are suggestions and resources for discovering the wonderful stories in mathematics

Maths Heroes – links to the past

An appreciation of the history of mathematics can motivate some students as it gives an insight into how great mathematicians of the past have experimented with the subject.

Using the websites and books listed below students can make posters and booklets of their mathematical heroes. Along the way collecting interesting stories such as:



Carl Friedrich Gauss was not always the old man shown in this portrait. This famous mathematician showed early promise when at the age of 3 he corrected a bookkeeping error of his father’s and as a youth astounded a teacher by finding a quick way to add up all the numbers from 1 to 100.






The story of the 350-year quest to solve Fermat's Last Theorem which was finally achieved by Andrew J. Wiles in 1994, after eight years of intensive and creative work.






The mathematician Abraham de Moivre developed a great amount of new mathematics and is also famous for predicting the day of his own death. He found that he was sleeping 15 minutes longer each night and this added up to the fact that he would die on the day that he slept for 24 hours. Unfortunately he was right!



Some possible resources to help children create their posters:


Websites on Mathematical Heroes

MacTutor History of Mathematics: Indexes of Biographies
This is a comprehensive collection of biographies and  a great reference for maths teachers or students in middle school and above. It also contains posters and mathematical stamps which can be used for wall displays and posters.

As well as having a section on “Famous Mathematician of the Day” and “Quotation for today”


Mathematicians' Anniversaries throughout the Year
This page indexes the same collection of biographies by significant dates (births, deaths, key discoveries). Looking up what mathematical anniversaries are being celebrated on any given day of the school year can be fun.


History of Mathematics for young mathematicians.

Website gives a student friendly gallery of some famous mathematicians

Biographies of Women Mathematicians

Contains interesting stories on women in mathematics over the years.


Math Marvels
A secondary school maths class in America created this Website of 32 mock interviews with famous mathematicians in 2001-02. Your students will find the interviews fun. There is also a set of resources at the end of each interview.


Math Quiz
On this site students can take a preferences quiz and find mathematicians with similar interests to them.


The Greatest Mathematicians of All Time

Website gives you their top 100 mathematicians of all time.

Online Math Applications!: History
This site includes some biographies of mathematicians.


The Story of Maths

Marcus du Sautoy presents this BBC series on the history of mathematics.

It is available on YouTube at

Books on Mathematical Heroes

Mathematicians Are People, Too: Stories from the Lives of Great Mathematicians, by Luetta and Wilbert Reimer. Dale Seymour Publications, 1990 (Vol. 1), 1995 (Vol. 2)

These two volumes, featuring 15 compelling stories in each are written for ages 8-12. They are great for reading aloud to a class, or for independent reading for students aged 10 and above.


Math & Mathematicians: The History of Math Discoveries Around the World, Vol. A-H and I-Z, by Leonard C. Bruno. UXL, 1999.

This two-volume set is organized alphabetically, like a selective math encyclopaedia, with 50 short biographies (including fourteen 20th century mathematicians). It includes a detailed mathematical timeline, glossary, and alternate table of contents organized by math field and ethnicity. The writing style is reasonably accessible for upper-primary read-aloud (with some paraphrasing) or for independent reading at secondary-school level.

The Experimenter's A-Z of Mathematics: Maths Activities with Computer Support by Steve Humble. David Fulton Publishers, 2002

Mathematics at all levels is about the joy in the discovery; it's about finding things out. This fascinating book is a guide to that discovery process, presenting ideas for practical classroom-based experiments and extension activities. Each experiment is based on the work of a key mathematician who has shaped the way that the subject looks today, and there are historical notes to help teachers bring this work to life.

Of Men and Numbers: The Story of the Great Mathematicians, by Jane Muir. Dover Publications, 1996,
These stories are lively and embellished with fictionalized details.


Math Through the Ages: A Gentle History for Teachers and Others, Expanded Edition, by William P. Berlinghoff and Fernando Q. Gouvea. Mathematical Association of America, 2003.
This engaging book, organized by mathematics topic and is recommended for students 10 years and older. The expanded edition includes classroom resource material.


Please note that CALMAST / Maths Week Ireland has no control over the content of these sites. Teachers and parents must satisfy themselves as to the suitability of any of these sites.