The paper, “Computer SCIENCE and Mathematics in the Elementary Schools” by Mike Fellows, is essentially a manifesto for this conference.
- Elementary school students deserve to experience profound and imaginative mathematical ideas. Such ideas shouldn’t be reserved for graduate students.
- Open unsolved problems are the creative drivers for mathematical activity, but children are taught a version of mathematics based almost entirely on correct answers.
- Mathematics itself is an “interdisciplinary powerhouse.” The pursuit of mathematical ideas will open doorways and raise interesting questions in the sciences and humanities.
Mathematics popularization is a research area of basic interest. Exciting mathematical ideas will not find their way to children and their teachers without an effort on the part of mathematicians to communicate about them in accessible ways.
It is quite uncommon for a world class research scientist also to be heavily involved in popularizing basic principles in their discipline to K-12 children.
Mike Fellows, an Australian Professorial Fellow and Professor of Computer Science, is one of these rare scientists, and one of the organizers of this conference.
In the 1980s, Fellows started a project called MEGA-Math, with funding from the Computer Applications and Research Group at Los Alamos National Laboratory (US). His plan was to develop materials based around modern research in computer science and mathematics and have these materials used to make early education more exciting and engaging. Mike attributes his early popularizing efforts to volunteering in the elementary classrooms of his children at Apple Blossom Family School in Moscow, Idaho. Mike recalls hurrying from his job at the university to the primary school. He had just been teaching a topic on sorting in a graduate class, and decided to teach the same topic to the children. It was a huge success.
MEGA-Math ultimately led to Computer Science Unplugged! with Tim Bell, Mike Fellows and Ian Witten. Tim and Mike are Keynote speakers at the conference.
Our goals are the following:
Create a professional development program for all to take home to their home communities and schoolsRead more
Our program is about thinking. It is not about technology. It is linking body, mind and experience. We are concerned with curiosity and innovation and creativity and how to nurture them in a mathematical setting.
Wake-Up to Computer Maths: Curiosity, Art, Story, Thinking! takes the very successful MEGA-Math and Computer Science Unplugged efforts into a whole new orbital. Two of the CSU authors, Mike Fellows and Tim Bell, are part of this new and innovative project, and all the invited presenters have experience in communicating cutting-edge research to the public.
Keynote presenters will share successful professional development programs from their home communities.
The successful features will be interrogated to determine their fit with the needs of others.
Appropriate features will be melded into a holistic educational ‘thinking about thinking’ framework. It is important to hold a ‘both-ways’ thinking for Indigenous and Western knowledges.
Our proposed program offers a wholistic approach, showing how the math activities can be used in other subjects. Activities are active, using whole-body movement, very healthy way to learn.
The math is told as a story, and gives an alternate route into math for disadvantaged or those who have not been math-successful yet. Many children are learning on their own, outside of school, using the internet.
We will create a website for the children, as well as for the teachers. Unplugged events have contributed to vibrant, inclusive, supportive and strong school communities, for example, the video about Roberta MacDonald, school Principal in Victoria, BC, Canada. Video was published on the Global News site
Produce holistic, whole-body, storyfull math activities that show the ‘both-ways’ and 21st Century Competencies philosophy, and incorporate computational ways of thinking in all subjects. These will be incorporated into the PD plans.Read more
Here's why Unplugged-like activities are ideal for a professional development program for K-6.
In elementary school, often computer science and technology are not existent in any form. Using fancy technological devices at that level is a challenge and therefore uncommon.
Unplugged activities allow teachers to introduce concepts from Mathematics and Computer Science that are used in everyday technology in a way that is technology-free.
The material is indeed approachable, fun and interactive and at the same time covers and enforces many of the learning outcomes required at these grade levels.
For each activity:
- a math topic is identified, including current importance in today’s world
- important computing and math concepts are specified
- a “What is it all about?” is written for teachers and parents, including what is not known
- the math material is related to indigenous story
- the story is developed into an activity
- he activity is tried out
- uses of the activity in other subjects are identified
The Directors of the Learning Connexion, New Zealand and others will help us use art, music and movement to release our creativity and build connections between math, art and story.
- We will learn new frontiers of mathematical sciences from the scientific researchers who identify these areas/topics as important to know about.
- We will work together to design activities.
- The Centre for Indigenous Knowledges will help us relate to Aboriginal story.
- We will try out the activities during the extended conference, and in our home countries, and report what happened.
Design a new, innovative master's degree program in mathematical science communication, to be offered by an international partnership of universities. Provide sample research projects.Read more
Teachers have told us that they would like to learn more maths. Even if they cannot see how to fit it into the overbooked teaching plans at this time, they would like to know for their own benefit. Most educational master’s programs do not teach much real maths.
We will discuss how to create a Master’s Degree that is responsive to this teacher's need.
- Unique aspects of the new innovative master’s degree program that differentiates it from other programs.
- Potential institutional partnerships.
- Need for the program.
- A plan for how the program will be offered (in-person meetings, distance learning and type of technology).
- Examples of the capstone experience/research product/thesis.
- Title of the degree program.
Establish for the first time, creative mathematical sciences communication as a respectable research area. This conference will establish a new international conference series in mathematical sciences communication.Read more
We envision establishing creative mathematical sciences communication as a respectable research area. Reaching people who work with and influence teachers is important.
Professional mathematicians and computer scientists rarely engage in outreach, especially for primary school, because they, and their colleagues, do not see it as research. Thus, children (and most others) have little idea what math is or how mathematicians think.
I personally have been seriously asked, “What did you do to get a higher degree in maths? Was it longer long-division?”
This is in contrast to other fields. Most children have some idea of the latest advances in biology or astronomy.
If we want children to grasp music, then we take them to Carnegie Hall and not just have them play scales. If we want children to grasp maths, then we take them to the best and the latest, and not just have them do grocery-store arithmetic.
Importantly, although there have been only a small number of examples, interaction with children should return new research ideas to the mathematician. This is not just a gratuitous, ‘feel-good’ exercise for the researcher. The researcher must be on the lookout for new ideas stemming from the interaction.
The conference will be the first of a new international conference series. There has already been interest in having the second one hosted by the Institute for Mathematical Sciences in Chennai, India.
Create a new journal for this new research area.Read more
Decisions will be made regarding conceptualizing a new journal:
- Choosing a name and developing the scope of the journal
- Deciding on the types of content
- Determining peer-review procedures
- Choosing a format layout and style for the journal
- Recruiting an editorial board
- Developing an organizational and governance structure
- Operating and sustaining the journal over the long-term
Bring to the conference:
Copies of relevant and related journals and publications, such as from: NCTM, AAMT/MERGA, Scholastic MATH Magazine, Newtons Window Math Magazine, Plus magazine, Dorling Kindersley workbooks, DK Children Marvel Heroes Math Made Easy, Sylvan Learning, Spectrum Math, TIME For Kids, and others.
Data comparing print journal versus website publication in terms of cost, readership, and other issues.