The Young Mathematical Story Author (YMSA) competition is the world’s first annual international competition set up to encourage young mathematics learners (8-15 years old) from around the world to embed their mathematics learning in a meaningful and engaging context through creating their own mathematical story picture books. The competition is organised by Dr. Natthapoj Vincent Trakulphadetkrai (Associate Professor of Mathematics Education, University of Reading) and his project. This year is the competition’s fourth year and it received entries from 759 students across 58 schools and homeschooling sites in 10 countries around the world. (Overall since 2019, the competition received entries from nearly 2,000 students across over 160 schools in 18 countries.)

The idea behind this competition is rooted in Dr. Trakulphadetkrai’s research on empowering young mathematics learners to become mathematical storytellers. He comments that “Sometimes, it can be difficult for researchers to try to entice busy and risk-averse classroom practitioners to try new teaching approaches. By organising this competition, teachers in different countries and their pupils suddenly became very excited by this new mathematics teaching and learning idea and were very happy to give it a go without me having to spend days and weeks trying to convince them of the benefits behind the approach. This competition is very handy for me to try to generate real-world research impact in a fun and engaging way. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.”

One of the young authors from India comments that: “I thank YMSA for being such an amazing international platform on which students around the world can express their love for maths and further expand their own maths knowledge while explaining maths concepts to others in a fun manner. Everyone should take part in the YMSA competition!”

In addition to Dr. Trakulphadetkrai, the judging panel also includes two of the world’s most prolific and best-selling mathematical story authors, Stuart J. Murphy and Cindy Neuschwander.

There are two entry categories: 8-11 and 12-15 years old, and the awards for these two categories are named The Stuart J. Murphy Award and The Cindy Neuschwander Award respectively.

The winner in each of these two categories receives an award of £100, and their school also receives £100. The Stuart J. Murphy Award and The Cindy Neuschwander Award are funded by HarperCollins and Charlesbridge respectively.

To read winning and shortlisted stories as well as the authors’ and judges’ comments, please click here.

Details of next year’s competition can be found here.


To learn more about Dr. Trakulphadetkrai’s research interests, click here. He tweets at @NatthapojVinceT.