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Promoting maths. Dr Vivien Easson more maths grads East London. Aims of the project. Improving students’ perception of maths Changing the ways that schools, colleges and universities interact Helping students find out about options

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Promoting maths


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    1. Promoting maths Dr Vivien Easson more maths grads East London

    2. Aims of the project • Improving students’ perception of maths • Changing the ways that schools, colleges and universities interact • Helping students find out about options • Raising awareness of the importance of maths, its role in careers, and its links to other subjects • Encouraging under-represented groups • Increasing the number applying to take maths further (to A-level or degree)

    3. London East region • Based at Queen Mary University of London • Working in four London boroughs • Barking and Dagenham • Hackney • Newham • Tower Hamlets

    4. Maths at Queen Mary: 1 • Situated in East London, one mile east of the City • Had an increase in numbers of undergraduates by 60-70% from 2003-2007 • Current goal is to improve quality while maintaining numbers (operating at or just above capacity)

    5. Maths at Queen Mary: 2 • In 2006/07 the School had 666 undergraduates, with • 18% Indian • 17% White (combined) • 14% Chinese • 14% Pakistani • 12% Bangladeshi • 11% Asian (other) • 6% Black African • 8% other / refused to say

    6. Full time undergraduates, UK Figures from HESA Steady increase in maths Steady decline in statistics

    7. The perception challenge • “mathematics is perceived by many students as being hard, boring, not relevant to their future and not leading to employment” • Smith Report (2004) • QCA (2006)

    8. Our team at Queen Mary • Vivien Easson (maths subject) • Zia Rahman (maths careers) • Jenny Allam (admin) • Supported by staff, postgrads and undergrads in the School of Mathematical Sciences (low time-commitment!)

    9. Five different types of obstacles • Many school pupils in East London speak a language other than English at home • Parents may not be confident in maths • Pupils may have little idea how technology, culture or other subjects depend on maths • Careers advice is often weak • Mathematics department facilities at some universities may lag behind other departments and business premises

    10. Possible approaches • Language barriers / parental skills: work with Ocean Maths Project who specialise in getting parents involved • Provide alternative role models through use of SEAs and student ambassadors • Find ways of connecting maths to a wide variety of applications and of getting this message into the classrooms • Help departments campaign for better facilities

    11. 32 events delivered so far… • Putting together careers info and supplementing the work done by the maths/physics outreach officer at Queen Mary • Finding ways to enrich the maths curriculum which engage more than just the top 5%

    12. Sample activity: Air Miles • Curriculum: travelling salesman problem • Found in AQA and Edexcel Decision Maths modules in AS/A-level but also accessible at GCSE • Takes 25-30 minutes

    13. What’s the Point of…? • In the London region we’re starting to produce this series of leaflets • Aiming to cover many topics in KS4/KS5 • Will be available to download and print out for free from the web

    14. The technology gap • Interactive whiteboards are standard in schools, though some are not fully used • The two main sixth form colleges in Hackney and Tower Hamlets have plasma screens displaying the day’s main events • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JX3VmDgiFnY

    15. Keeping up with the engineers • Professional engineering bodies like the Institute of Mechanical Engineers have been involved in outreach for years • Maths has had a lot of outreach work, but generally by individual volunteers • This project is a positive step because it provides funding for full-time workers in addition to universities’ own officers