Maths and Design – Maths beyond numbers

Today was the first day of the AIS IT Integrator Conference 2010 and there’s heaps to blog about, for sure, but one that really touched so close to home was the session entitled Thinking Hyperbolically!I feel inept in my attempt to capture the enthusiasm of the teachers who presented or the magic of their creation.  Bear with me.

With their permission, I would like to mention the work of Melissa Silk and Jane Martin.  Serendipitously, Melissa (Design) and Jane (Maths) discovered an opportunity to marry their expertise into a collaboration towards creating a new Stage 5 (Years 9 and 10) elective course. It all started with a problem: how to teach Euclid’s Parallel Postulate. This led to hyperbolic crochet and a crochet group and eventually to a course that (and I quote)

takes an exciting and creative approach to curriculum and draws on a range of ICTs to enhance the learning of students in both Design and Mathematics. Using the expertise of both teachers, students explore areas as diverse as codes and ciphers, visual representation of data, topology and nomography.

Each mathematical construct is explored as a concept or theory and then synthesized into a design expression, giving additional insights in new and exciting ways.
ICT is utilised in the creation of form, the expression of information and the beauty of mathematics. Emerging areas of information analysis, such as data representation, give depth and beauty to mathematical knowledge, allowing for both a clarity of understanding and an appreciation of the beauty of maths.

These two teachers walked us through a showcase of some of these ideas and examples of visual representations via this Prezi (sorry, the embed would not work for me!)

I absolutely LOVEd this.  ICT was so integrated – it’s really another tool for teaching and learning.  Exploring various ways of expressing self, mathematical concepts and even colours must be quite fascinating.

I’m gushing so I have to pull back a bit and just list what I really liked:

  1. Real collaboration – harness expertise of all parties concerned
  2. the juxtaposition of Maths and Design (okay, this is a personal favourite)
  3. the experimental and evolving nature of the course starting with “what if?
  4. the possibility of allowing those who would typically be maths-averse to see the beauty of maths, e.g. as an art form.  Actually, it’s not just “see”, as these teachers are exploring other senses.
  5. From what I saw, there is no dumbing down of concepts – but really steeped into exploration and re-expression (i.e. from maths into design)

I’m not sure which I’d prefer to be: teacher or student of this course.

Can teaching maths be more like this or is the focus on rigour holding us back?

I am hoping that these ladies will share their work more widely than this conference. Blogging about it here is a step but surely much more can be done.  Any ideas welcome!

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2 thoughts on “Maths and Design – Maths beyond numbers

  1. rolfek says:

    I was at the session as well and loved the combination of Maths, ICT and design!! I mean all are favourites of mine so to get them all together was great. Good effort IGS.

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