Revolutionary academic receives international recognition

24-Jan-2014

Revolutionary academic receives international recognition

Australian Professorial Fellow Michael Fellows has been recognised by his peers for his contribution to mathematics and computer science education


A world-renowned computer scientist has been recognised for making mathematics more accessible to children and the community through larger-than-life, hands-on activities.

Australian Professorial Fellow at Charles Darwin University Professor Michael Fellows has received the ETH Zurich ABZ International Medal of Honor for fundamental contributions to Computer Science Education.

Professor Fellows received the medal (one of the highest possible honours in computer science education circles worldwide) at an award ceremony at the annual Swiss Computer Science Day in Zurich, Switzerland earlier this month. The university ETH, Zurich is one of the most prestigious universities in Europe.

The medal was awarded for the worldwide impact of the innovative book “Computer Science Unplugged”, written by Professor Fellows with New Zealand colleagues Tim Bell (University of Canterbury) and Ian Witten (Otago University). The concept is aimed at presenting the mathematical ideas of computer science to primary school students. It has been translated into 18 languages and has spurred a global grassroots movement.

“The plan was to develop materials based around modern research in computer science and mathematics and have these ideas used to make early education more exciting and engaging,” Professor Fellows said.

“Woven through ‘Computer Science Unplugged’ is the importance of story: that presenting maths and computing topics through story-telling and physical activities can captivate children and adults alike, and provides a whole new level of engagement with what can be perceived as a dry topic. It is also about not paying attention to boundaries, whether teaching advanced computer science concepts to elementary school children or running a mathematics event in a park.”

Founder of one of the most revolutionary mathematical theories underpinning modern advances in biology and medicine, Professor Fellows said that receiving the award was a huge honour.

Professor Fellows is also one of only a handful of computer scientists globally to have received a Springer Festschrift.
 
The Festschrift (a book honouring a respected person) is entitled “The Multivariate Revolution in Algorithmics” and was presented to Professor Fellows as part of his recent 60th birthday celebrations at the prestigious Dagstuhl computer science research centre in Germany.
 
For more information about the activities associated with “Computer Science Unplugged”, visit W: www.csunplugged.org.