How does a mathematician think about and solve a problem?
What does "doing maths" look like?
To help students and their teachers answer those questions, ACEMS sponsors a series of workshops called "Mathscraft - Doing maths like a research mathematician." The goal of the program is for students and teachers to experience what we believe mathematics is truly about:
- noticing patterns
- making conjectures
- proving or disproving those conjectures
- figuring out “why”
- thinking of ways to extend the problem.
We want to show that maths isn’t just about getting a right answer. It’s about exploring, understanding, and knowing that there's always another question to ask. This is the process that a research mathematician goes through when he or she starts to tackle a problem.
Mathscraft gives students and teachers the opportunity to experience this process for themselves, by grouping them with research mathematicians, and asking them to work through mathematical problems that are similar in style to actual research problems.
Mathscraft sessions have been running since 2012, led by Anthony Harradine, ACEMS affiliate and Director of the Potts-Baker Institute at Prince Alfred College, Adelaide.
Teacher training/PD workshops
In November 2016, in collaboration with the Mathematical Research Institute (MATRIX), we ran the very first Professional Development training workshop for teachers, to give them the knowledge and resources needed to run Mathscraft sessions of their own. During this five-day workshop, held at MATRIX in Creswick, the 17 teachers tackled the same sorts of problems that are given to students in the sessions, and were encouraged to analyse their experiences. The workshop also included a Mathscraft session with school groups from the local area.
As a result, many more Mathscraft events will be happening in 2017!
Feedback from the attendees:
“In all my years of teaching I have never learnt so much in the time available. I wish we could have more exposure to this type of learning/teaching.”
“Seeing how mathematicians work has shown me how valuable different representations are to the thinking process.”
“It is very important to recognise that this event was likely more valuable than all of my previous PD combined.”
“Amazing. Exhausting, fun, really really hard work...”
“I like the fact that we've been sent to bed each night struggling with at least one problem.”
In the recent past his professional time has been filled with a variety of tasks that include: facilitator of problem-solving workshops, mathematical-person in residence, leader of a unique STEM project (eduKart), Advisory Board Member (The University of Adelaide, Faculty of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences), Prime Ministerial working group member (Transforming Learning and the Transmission of Knowledge), consultant, web application developer, curriculum writer and teacher.