Internet Oscar for Plus maths magazine website

Internet Oscar for Plus maths magazine website

Silicon Fen met Silicon Valley at this year's Webby Awards, the Oscars for the internet, held last week in San Francisco.

Rubbing shoulders with fellow winners, such as the owners of the search engine Google and Internet pioneer Vint Cerf, was Dr Robert Hunt, Deputy Director of the Isaac Newton Institute at the University of Cambridge and Editor of Plus magazine, the online maths magazine which won the award for best science website.

Accepting the Webby for Plus, Dr Hunt said "Maths is elegant, interesting, useful." His brevity was dictated by the Webby Awards tradition of restricting all prize winners to a five-word acceptance speech. Free of any such restriction, Professor John D Barrow, Director of the Millennium Maths Project which produces Plus, was slightly more expansive:

"We are all excited and delighted by this prestigious award. We're especially pleased to have won this award as Plus was one of only two UK sites nominated out of 35. Winning the Webby is a great achievement for a serious mathematics education site, which provides an entertaining, free mathematics internet magazine accessible to all."

Plus started in 1997 and was then called PASS Maths (Public Awareness and Schools Support for Maths) - a project of the Interactive Courseware Research and Development Group, based jointly at the Universities of Cambridge and Keele. It was originally sponsored by BT through a University Development Award and UCLES, the parent body to the Oxford, Cambridge and RSA Examinations body (OCR).

Plus includes articles which describe the applications of maths to real-world problems, games, puzzles, of popular maths books, a news section explaining recent scientific developments in which maths has played an important part, and a lucky dip of mathematical curiosities. There is a regular interview with someone in a maths-related career, showing the wide range of uses it gets put to in the real world. Recent issues have featured articles on topics ranging from the mathematics of mazes, to the appearance of fractals in Jackson Pollock's paintings.

Plus is now part of the Millennium Mathematics Project (MMP), a national initiative based in Cambridge but working across the UK and internationally. The MMP aims to help people of all ages and abilities share in the excitement of mathematics and understand the enormous range and importance of its applications to science and commerce. It aims to change people's attitudes to maths, to act as a national focus for renewing and improving appreciation of the dynamic importance of maths and its applications, and to demonstrate the vital contribution of maths to shaping the everyday world.

The MMP runs, besides Plus, a number of other programmes including: NRICH (also web based, at - a free online maths club publishing every month puzzles, games and mathematical learning resources for children aged 5 - 18, and MOTIVATE, a video-conferencing scheme (chosen for funding by NESTA as one of its pioneer projects) which brings schoolchildren from disadvantaged areas into direct contact with world-class research mathematical scientists to enhance the teaching of mathematics in schools, raise educational aspirations and broaden the horizons of expectation for gifted pupils.

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