Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Canterbury uni gets crafty with maths for kids

A new, free classroom resource developed by the University of Canterbury is encouraging schoolchildren to use craft to discover the creative and playful side of maths.

Launched today, Maths Craft in a Box is a self-contained box dedicated to exploring the fascinating world of fractals in the classroom, aimed at students in Years 7-13.

The first edition of Maths Craft in a Box provides enough craft materials to build a large fractal sculpture, packs of student Zines (workbooks) providing a beautifully illustrated introduction to the mathematics of fractals, and custom-made online instructional videos.

The resource, which is the first and only ‘maths box’ available in Aotearoa New Zealand, was co-created by University of Canterbury Senior Lecturer Dr Jeanette McLeod and her fellow mathematician and Senior Lecturer in the School of Mathematics and Statistics Dr Phil Wilson.

The pair founded Maths Craft New Zealand in 2016, a non-profit initiative dedicated to engaging the public with mathematics through craft. The two mathematicians recently teamed up with an educational researcher, University of Canterbury senior lecturer in Teacher Education Dr David Pomeroy, who is a former secondary maths teacher, and a designer who specialises in science communication Jo Bailey of Massey University, to create Maths Craft in a Box. 

“Maths is often overlooked as a subject of beauty and imagination,” says Dr McLeod.

As a pure mathematician at UC and a principal investigator of Te Pūnaha Matatini, she has a passion for sharing the creative, playful side of mathematics. She says Maths Craft in a Box helps teachers bring “real mathematical thinking into the classroom at a crucial age for children” as research has shown that attitudes towards maths can become fixed in intermediate school.

“Maths Craft will help our hardworking teachers by providing this creative and free resource to bring mathematics to life as a subject,” Dr McLeod says.

“Students who already love maths will find something new and enriching in the Box, and our pilot project showed that most children who don’t like maths feel differently after engaging with the Box.”

The Box includes enough content to easily fill several lessons for Years 7-13, and can be entirely student-led. 

Go to www.mathscraftnz.org/box to sign up.

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