Gafa le Mata/Busy at Maths
This project aims to develop a bilingual mathematical walk of the NUI Galway campus, culminating in the development of a mobile app available for students, staff and visitors to the campus. Mathematical walks are meaningful, stimulating, challenging, and engaging activities. These walks invite all people, irrespective of mathematical ability, to participate successfully in mathematical problem solving activities. By integrating ‘outside’ mathematics within ‘inside’ classroom mathematics, this projects hopes to sow the seeds for the development of flexible, creative and future-orientated mathematical thinkers and problem solvers.
The development of this bilingual mathematical walk will be the first for NUI Galway and the first to be developed on any third level campus in Ireland. This project is being undertaken with 3rd Year BA in Mathematics and Education student teachers. The project will help prepare student teachers for an extended professionalism in a much wider domain than just the classroom; who can function as effective facilitators of their pupils’ learning; who are committed to professional development; and who are able to engage collaboratively with colleagues and external groups and agencies. As a new public engagement project, Gafa le Mata can also be utilised by NUI Galway for educational and promotional activities.
I felt that it was a great opportunity to work with my student teachers outside of programme commitments, while opening their eyes to potential projects/activities that they could do with their future pupils. In particular, the aim was to prepare student teachers for an extended professionalism operating in a much wider domain than that which focuses primarily on the classroom, who can function as effective facilitators of their pupils’ learning, are committed to professional development and are able to engage collaboratively with colleagues in the profession, with other groups and agencies, and with the various members of the community served by education.
This project aimed to develop a bilingual mathematical walk of the NUI Galway campus, culminating in the development of a mobile app available for students, staff and visitors to the campus. Mathematical walks are meaningful, stimulating, challenging, and engaging activities. These walks invite all people, irrespective of mathematical ability, to participate successfully in mathematical problem solving activities, gaining a sense of pride in the mathematics they learn.
The development of this bilingual mathematical walk of the campus will be the first for NUI Galway and the first to be developed on any third level campus in Ireland. This is a public engagement project that can be utilised by NUI Galway for educational, marketing and promotional activities. The purpose of the mathematical walk app is to reveal to the general public the mathematics hidden in our surroundings and that while challenging, mathematics can be enjoyable, leading to participants being ‘Gafa le Mata’.
By participating in this project, the student teachers have to work collaboratively together to develop material and content for the App, while also designing the App interface. They developed new skills, while also developing awareness of the potential of mathematical learning taking place outside the classroom and the importance of improving the public perception of mathematics.
This project was undertaken with eight BA in Mathematics and Education student teachers (3rd Year). The students were central to the implementation of this project and were responsible for the the identification, development and presentation of the mathematical features of the NUI Galway campus underpinning the mathematical walk App, in conjunction with designing the App interface. The staff role was very much a facilitative and supportive role for guiding the students towards key mathematical features of the campus, developing the mathematical walk and mobile app, and making materials available bilingually.
We quickly realised the need for expertise in relation to App programming and development. This can be an expensive task and one which we found difficult to overcome initially. However, we persisted and formed links with DERI who will oversee the final development and dissemination of the App.
App development was new to us all and a real learning curve, and a valuable skill for future initiatives.
The final outcome
Through the development of a mobile app this ensures sustainability of the project. DERI will oversee the final development of the App and the aim is to have it ready by September 2013. Mathematics is very much alive in the world around us and people can come to appreciate this very quickly through engaging in a mathematical walk. The general public’s eyes are opened as they discover real-world examples of shape, pattern, number, data, symmetry and reflection, to name just a few. Mathematical learning in such contexts is not simply enrichment; it is at the core of empowering people’s understanding of mathematics and engaging them in lifelong learning. The App will be freely available to all interested parties and dissemination to the general public will be encouraged e.g. during national events such as Science Week and Maths week, local events such as Open Days, School Tours. I feel that this is a real asset for NUI Galway; it will help marketing initiatives and make mathematics more accessible to the general public.
• Have a plan and timeline – it is important to be prepared for undertaking the project and being aware of what is involved.
• Do not be afraid to give students responsibility and to challenge them in new ways – they have loads of ability and potential.
• Do not be afraid to ask people for help and advice – the community was really supportive and helpful in guiding me towards people who could assist and enhance the project.
• Find a time in the students’ timetable and pencil in Explore for this time – even if you do not meet at least they have a timeslot to devote to it on a regular basis.
• Be realistic about what is achievable in the timeframe – we needed an additional few months to finalise the development of the App.
"This really opened my eyes about the importance of mathematics in everyday life and making it accessible for the general public. It was great working with others on this project also and having to make key decisions as a group. I really learnt the importance of collaboration and what can be achieved by working with others in comparison to what can be achieved trying to do something on your own." Student partner
"I learnt not to be afraid to take on a project that is a challenge for me and my current skills/knowledge base – new learning is priceless. It is also a great way to make links and connections with colleagues in other Schools/Institutes within the University." Staff partner
We have identified key mathematical features that transcend the campus and which include the following buildings/features:
• Engineering Building
• Aras Moyola
• Church Garden
• The Quadrangle
• The New Bridge
• Ryan Institute
• Library/Bialann Statue
• Orbsen Building
• Arts Millennium Building
• Aras de Brun
Images have been compiled and mathematical features identified involving the following areas:
Our next phase will involve developing the mathematical text and interactive elements of the identified features.
• 8 mathematical features of the campus have been finalised and the content/interactive elements developed.
• A story board of the key features of the app/how it will look and operate has been developed.
• Additional funding has been secured from the College of Arts/School of Education in order to complete the development of the app.
• DERI, NUI Galway will collaborate in the development of the app. An intern student will develop it during June and July 2013.
• It is anticipated the app will be ready and available for use by September 2013.