RMIT researchers have received more than $1.47 million in funding to find new ways to make maths more engaging for high school students.
Three RMIT-led projects received funding in the latest Australian Maths and Science Partnership Program (AMSPP) Competitive Grants Round.
The projects, which run for between one and three years, will develop ways of linking the disciplines to real-life situations to make them more engaging for secondary school students.
They are among 15 projects which will share in $16.4 million in funding from the AMSPP, which aims to improve student engagement in maths and science courses at tertiary and secondary levels, through innovative partnerships between universities, schools and other organisations.
Professor Dianne Siemon from the School of Education said her project, Reframing Mathematical Futures, would work with industry partners, practitioners and the professional community to build a resource for Year 7 to 10 students that would respond to their needs.
"The resource will be developed and shared online via a web-based portal in collaboration with the Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers," she said.
"It will include validated assessment tools, an evidence-based framework for developing mathematical reasoning, targeted teaching advice for each level of the framework, and task-based professional learning modules aimed at deepening teacher's pedagogical content knowledge for teaching Year 7 to 10 mathematics."
Making Something out of Maths, a project that shows students some of the real world applications of mathematics, will be led by Dr Patricia McLaughlin.
It focuses on getting middle school girls interested in the importance of maths to design and manufacturing.
"The students will attend engineering workshop activities at RMIT over 10-weeks or one school term," Dr McLaughlin said.
"The girls will be given a real world problem to solve using the labs and equipment at RMIT's Advanced Manufacturing Precinct, under the guidance of staff."
The project - an initiative of RMIT's Science, Health and Engineering Educational Research (SHEER) Centre - aims to get Australia out of the OECD's bottom three countries for the proportion of women enrolled in tertiary mathematics, engineering and science disciplines.
Another SHEER Centre project that received funding was Virtualising Science: Using an Online World to Immerse Junior Secondary School Students in Real Applications of Maths and Science Curriculum.
Project leader, Dr James Baglin, from the School of Mathematical and Geospatial Sciences, said it would teach students how to conduct statistical investigations within a virtual world called the Island, which simulates a human-like population.
"Originally developed by Dr Michael Bulmer, from the University of Queensland, the Island has realistic and engaging elements that are well suited to secondary school students," Dr Baglin said.
The 18-month project will use the Island to design authentic, research-based and teacher-led classroom activities and resources aimed at engaging junior secondary school students in aspects of the maths curriculum that relate to scientific experimentation and data investigations.
"The resources will be piloted in partnered schools across Australia and provide teachers with professional development," Dr Baglin said.
"By enriching the student experience of the mathematics curriculum and connecting real applications of maths with science, the project will build student aspirations to follow maths and science careers."
The University of Queensland, Queensland University of Technology and Swinburne University of Technology are also involved in the project.
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