Posts Tagged ‘Australia’

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_______ Politicians vs Reality ______ Why BACK-to-BASICS Maths FAILS

December 8, 2019

“There are many such examples of excellence across Australian schools. But there are not enough. While individual schools might shine, the results of international tests, released earlier this week, suggest our education system as a whole is stagnating. For the first time, Australia failed to exceed the OECD average in maths, and the nation’s results in reading and science have declined since Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) testing began in the early 2000s.” More here.

What about SINGAPORE?

Meanwhile, SINGAPORE students do well in maths because they have very ENTHUSIASTIC teachers. If you want to see how Singapore and other countries promote maths in the classroom go to Maths News: Around the World from International Congress of Mathematical Education 2016.

Here we go again!

I wrote the following post in 2014 and here we are, 5 years later, back where we started. 

Louis CK Quote

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Is maths becoming a dead language?

mathspig fractionsIn the 1980’s American restaurant chain A&W was going to kick Mcdonald’s marketing butt. How? Instead of a quarter pounder burger they brought out and promoted a third pounder!!!! The promo failed. Why? Americans didn’t get fractions. More frightening, in Why do Americans stink at maths?, Elizabeth Green, The New York Times ( 23 JUL 2014), was the US study that found 17 percent of medication errors were caused by maths mistakes made by doctors or pharmacists.

Meanwhile, students in Australia, the USA, and the UK are dropping out of maths like flies.

Something is seriously wrong with the way we teach maths.

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Vote 1 Me. (Probably can’t count to 2 anyway.)

vote slip 2

Politicians around the world use education to win votes. We will raise numeracy standards they promise. Of course, this may not help your child, just the state averages.

Nevertheless, Back to Basics concepts are constantly pushed in the UK, the USA, and Australia by politicians.

us flagIn 2009 Obama backed “common standards” and “common core” curriculum in maths supported by $USA 4 Billion in grants. (Why do Americans stink at maths?, Elizabeth Green, The New York Times, 23 JUL 2014).

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uk flagLater this year a new ‘Back to Basics’ Curriculum will be rolled out in the UK with an emphasis on times tables and mental maths. (Schools must go back to basics to raise maths standards, Graeme Paton, The Telegraph, UK, 18 FEB 2014)

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aus flagAustralia has introduced a National Curriculum and National Testing (NAPLAN) in numeracy and literacy in recent years. The current government just put up $22 million to back Direct Instruction in Indigenous Schools across Qld, NT and WA (Noel Pearson’s learning engine, Jamie Walker, The Australian, 5 JUL 2014) Direct Instruction is a commercial product involving very rigid and proscriptive Back to Basics curriculum and testing program from National Institute of Direct Instruction based in Eugene, Oregon.

Teachers use strict guidelines and must keep within the program. Eg:

Picture 2

Picture 3……………………………………

Do back to basics programs work?

Maybe. It depends on what you are measuring. Students can improve some maths skills. The worksheets are very clear and that is to be applauded. And so, in time, standards may rise on paper.

But there are still two huge problems.

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We have ways of teaching to make you hate maths!!!!

Firstly, there is the McMath Element. Do you want Pythagoras with that quarter pounder? Repetitive, pre-packaged, parrot-style learning is easily forgotten. According to Professor Roediger professor of psychology at Washington Uni ‘effortful, varied practice builds mastery’. (How tests make us smarter, New York Times, 18 Jul 2014).

Secondly, rigid drilling is boring. Students grind through the exercise after exercise being constantly reminded that maths is dry, dull and boring on a coma-inducing scale. Students will, as is the current trend, drop maths as soon as they can.

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Why do some kids think maths is a cruel and unusual punishment?

According to Peter Sullivan, Professor of Mathematics Edu at Monash University students drop maths because it is:

not related to the real world,

repetitious,

boring

and restrictive.

See STOP THE PRESS: Maths Teaching Fails

But it is not just students who find maths boring. Teachers who are forced to adopt rigid, repetitive and monotonous prepackaged courses also become disillusioned.

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One size does not fit all and local knowledge counts

Grade 3Elcho Island MapI’m sitting in a Grade 3 classroom in a remote Indigenous School on Elcho Island off the coast of NT. (Last week I ran some fun/creative workshops for staff.) The young enthusiastic teacher (with the help of two indigenous interpreters) was teaching the students to count to 10 and write the numbers from 1 – 10.

Students arrive at school speaking only the local Indigenous language. They must acquire literacy skills in their own language before they are taught English in Grade 4. There is a good deal of catching up to be achieved in numeracy skills. Many Indigenous languages only name the numbers 1, 2, 3 and many. The teachers on the island are familiar with the difficulties facing their students and work hard with empathy and enthusiasm to overcome multiple disadvantages of their students.

Teachers on the island have developed extraordinary resources and create programs to engage their students in learning maths. Imposing a rigid curriculum regime like Direct Instruction on Elcho Island schools will further disadvantage the students and also demoralize the dedicated staff.

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Ways of teaching maths that work

Here are two teaching methods that are not only flexible and fun, but they have also been proven to work in the classroom.

The Walker Learning Approach

Walker learningKathy Walker is an Australian educator, author and early years curriculum expert. Her books include What’s the Hurry? and Play Matters. The Walker Learning Approach, which is used in many schools around Australia including Elcho Island, is an evidence-based strategy that encourages play-based discovery and learning as well as explicit instruction in numeracy and literature (K – Year 8). More here.

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Magdelene Lampert: Learning by Communication Method

teaching probMagdalene Lampert, until recently professor of education at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and author of “Teaching Problems and the Problems of Teaching, has replaced ‘answer-getting’ with ‘sense-making.(Why do Americans stink at maths?, Elizabeth Green, The New York Times, 23 JUL 2014)

She advocates incorporating communication in maths as ‘being able to explain your thinking so that someone else grasps your ideas’ improves your understanding ( as any teacher knows from their own experiences in front of the classroom.)

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LET TEACHERS TEACH

Mathspig Pedagogy

Yeah! MATHS: Guaranteed to be boring one day and scary the next but always a complete waste of time – there’s a product that’s not going to sell.

Let teachers teach. This should be a campaign slogan to put maths teaching back into the hands of the people, who know what is going on in the classroom. Imposing rigid regimes on teachers is counter productive as the teachers become as bored, as angry and as disenfranchised as their students. I mean ‘why bother?’ We need teachers with passion, enthusiasm and creativity to teach maths, not Mathsbots pre-programmed by politicans to win votes.

Politicians do not teach your children. Teachers do. If politicians and the bureaucracy make teachers lives miserable, this misery will be passed onto their students … Your children. There must be checks and balances – and cliches, I guess – but it is the teacher who passes on their love or hatred of maths to your children. If the community gives teachers the chance to teach maths creatively and with humour, they will take up the challenge and your child will benefit.

Mathspig Let Teachers Teach

I was taught by a young and enthusiastic Maths teacher at a small rural hgh school in the sixties. That’s almost 50 years ago – OMG! Don’t do the maths. His name was Barry Underhill.

Mathjspig a gogo 1I’m Mathspig. And I love maths.

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Amazing and Terrifying Wildfire Maths . . . . . . . . . . . . . . METRIC UNITS

November 13, 2019

mathspig-smoke-jumpers 

With the catastrophic Californian fires burning into November and wildfires currently burning in NSW and Qld, Australia, I had to repost this firefighter maths for middle school classrooms.

Radiant Heat Stats WA Fire Dept FACEBOOK, Australian Bushfires 14 NOV 2019 MyFireWatch WA

 Wildfires USA 2019 Map: Ecowest,

mathspig-metric-units-fire-math

METRIC UNITS

Background Story

On 5th August 1949 Wag Dodge was dropped by parachute with 14 other fire fighters into Mann Gulch, a steep-sided gully in a Montana pine forest. Fire fighters who parachute in to put out small blazes started by lightening are called Smoke Jumpers. As they worked their way down the sides of the gully the breeze was blowing away from them. But the wind soon shifted. This produced an updraft, which increases the speed of the fire front. The 15 Smoke Jumpers turned and started running for their lives uphill.

HOW FAST CAN YOU RUN?

METRIC UNITS

Time Trial:

Mark out a 10 m course. Make 3 time trials.

t1 =

t2 =

t3=

Average your time:

tav = (t1 + t2 + t3)/ 3 =

Your Speed S = 10/tav = ……… m/sec

mathspig-firefirghter-maths-1

HOW FAST IS A GRASS FIRE?

This will, of course, vary depending on the wind speed. A typical grass fire in Australia in a flat area can travel at 20kph (up to 30 kph) in a gentle breeze.

Fire Front Speed Grass Fire

Fire Front Speed = 20 kph = 20 x1000/(60 x 60)

                               = 20 x 0.27777777 = 20 x 0.28 m/sec

                               = 5.6 m/sec

mathspig-firefighter-maths-2

CAN YOU OUT RUN A FIRE?

Average Running Speed Boy 13–14 yo = 3.0 m/sec

Average Running Speed Girl 13–14 yo = 2.4 m/sec

We’ll assume, boy or girl, that you are really motivated and can run away from the fire at top speed of 3.0 m/sec. Now calculate the distance you can run and the fire front moves in 10 secs intervals up to 1 minute.

mathspig-fire-fighter-table-1

This is not looking good. See more Firefighters Need Maths here.

We can do very accurate calculations using simultaneous equations. Wildfire Algebra: Detailed Worksheet using simultaneous equations and solutions  here.

NOW YOU ARE RUNNING UP HILL. WHAT HAPPENS?

We’ll assume, due to being motivated by having a fire licking your heels, that you can run at your top speed up hill for a short time, at least. But here is the problem.

Heat rises and so there is a Chimney Effect pushing the fire uphill. The rule of thumb used by fire fighters is:

Each 10º increase in slope, the fire front speed doubles.

mathspig-cfa-diag

mathspig-fire-fighter-table-2

Now you can calculate the distance travelled by the fire front up a slope at a 30º angle.

Don’t forget you can use the WEB 2.0 Calculator here.

mathspig-fire-fighter-table-3

Even at your top running speed, which is unlikely up a slope, you can run 180 m in 1 minute. In that time the forefront has moved 2688 m or 2.7 km.

It depends how far away you are from the fire front, but it seems you cannot out run this fire front.

Again we can do very accurate calculations using simultaneous equations.

See Firefighters Need Maths here.

Wildfire Algebra: Worksheet and solutions here.

CAN YOU OUT RUN A WILD FIRE?

High winds can turn a bush or forrest fire into a WILD FIRE with wind speeds up to 110 kph and temperatures up to 2000 °C, which can and does melt glass and cars.

The fire front speed doubles with every 10º, so speeds for the fire front can reach 220 kph, 330kph and up to 550kph.

20o-angle-mathspig-2

What happened to the Smoke Jumpers?

When the fire front changed direction Wag Dodge and 14 other Smoke Jumpers found themselves running for their lives up a steep slope. What did Wag do next?

ANS: Here’s the amazing thing. Wag realised he could not out run the fire at that point. So he stopped. Took off his back pack. Took out some MATCHES and lit a fire in the grassy patch in front of him. Just before the firewall hit he threw himself face down on the burnt patch. He survived. The other 14 firefighters did not.

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Amazing and Terrifying Wildfire Maths . . . . . . . . . . . . . . USA UNITS

November 13, 2019

mathspig-smoke-jumpers With the catastrophic Californian fires burning into November and wildfires currently burning in NSW and Qld, Australia, I had to repost this firefighter maths for middle school classrooms.

Radiant Heat Stats WA Fire Dept FACEBOOK, Australian Bushfires 14 NOV 2019 MyFireWatch WA

 Wildfires USA 2019 Map: Ecowest,

mathspig-usa-units-fire-math

 

USA UNITS

Background Story

On 5th August 1949 Wag Dodge was dropped by parachute with 14 other fire fighters into Mann Gulch, a steep-sided gully in a Montana pine forest. Fire fighters who parachute in to put out small blazes started by lightening are called Smoke Jumpers. As they worked their way down the sides of the gully the breeze was blowing away from them. But the wind soon shifted. This produced an updraft, which increases the speed of the fire front. The 15 Smoke Jumpers turned and started running for their lives uphill.

HOW FAST CAN YOU RUN?

USA UNITS

Time Trial:

Mark out a 30ft course. Make 3 time trials.

t1 =

t2 =

t3=

Average your time:

tav = (t1 + t2 + t3)/ 3 =

Your Speed S = 30/tav   ft/sec

mathspig-firefirghter-maths-1

HOW FAST IS A GRASS FIRE?

This will, of course,  vary depending on the wind speed. A typical grass fire in Australia in a flat area can travel at 12mph (up to 20mph) in a gentle breeze.

Fire Front Speed Grass Fire

Fire Front Speed = 12 mph = 12 x 5280/(60 x 60)

                           = 17.6 ft/sec

                           = 18 ft/sec

mathspig-firefighter-maths-2

CAN YOU OUT RUN A FIRE?

Average Running Speed Boy 13–14 yo = 10 ft/sec

Average Running Speed Girl 13–14 yo = 8 ft/sec

We’ll assume, boy or girl, that you are really motivated and can run away from the fire at top speed of 10 ft/sec and -Wow! – this is easy math. Now calculate the distance you can run and the fire front moves in 10 secs intervals up to 1 minute.

mathspig-fire-fighter-table-4

This is not looking good. See more Firefighters Need Maths here.

We can do very accurate calculations using simultaneous equations. Wildfire Algebra: Detailed Worksheet using simultaneous equations and solutions  here.

NOW YOU ARE RUNNING UP HILL. WHAT HAPPENS?

mathspig-cfa-diag-usa-units

We’ll assume, due to being motivated by having a fire licking your heels, that you can run at your top speed up hill for a short time, at least. But here is the problem.

Heat rises and so there is a Chimney Effect pushing the fire uphill. The rule of thumb used by fire fighters is:

Each 10º increase in slope, the fire front speed doubles.

mathspig-fire-fighter-table-5

Now you can calculate the distance travelled up a slope at a 30º angle.

Don’t forget you can use the WEB 2.0 Calculator here

mathspig-fire-fighter-table-6

Even at your top running speed, which is unlikely up a slope, you can run 1080 ft in 1 minute. In that time the forefront has moved 8640 ft or 1.6 miles. It depends how far away you are from the fire front when you start running, but it seems likely that you cannot out run this fire front.

Again we can do very accurate calculations using simultaneous equations.

See Firefighters Need Maths here.

Wildfire Algebra Worksheet and solutions  here.

CAN YOU OUT RUN A WILD FIRE?

High winds can turn a bush or forrest fire into a WILD FIRE with wind speeds up to 70 mph and temperatures up to 2000 °C, which can and does melt glass and cars.

The fire front speed doubles with every 10º, so speeds for the fire front in a strong wind can reach 140 mph, 210 mph and up to 280 mph.

20o-angle-mathspig-2

What happened to the Smoke Jumpers?

When the fire front changed direction Wag Dodge and 14 other Smoke Jumpers found themselves running for their lives up a steep slope. What did Wag do next?

ANS: Here’s the amazing thing. Wag realised he could not out run the fire at that point. So he stopped. Took off his back pack. Took out some MATCHES and lit a fire in the grassy patch in front of him. Just before the firewall hit he threw himself face down on the burnt patch. He survived. The other 14 firefighters did not.

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Cars in the USA are how old? Really? No way! Look at the World and Do the Math

February 3, 2018

 

The average age of the 60 years of FORD vehicles here is 30 years. MODEL NAMES at end of post.

I did this to show that averages can tell us a lot or, in this case, not very much.

Here are some averages that tell us a lot about different countries and their love of cars!

The average age of vehicles in USA is a record-high of 11.6 years. More here.

Car ownership rates data here.

This is the average vehicle age, which includes vans and utes. Almost 1,000,00 vehicles were scrapped in 2015-16. More than 30% of vehicles are less than five years old. Data here.

In 2016, the average age of vehicles on Canadian roads was 9.66 years. Data here.

The average age of cars in UK is 7.7 yrs. some interesting stats here.

The average age of vehicles in New Zealand is 14.3 years. The average age of trucks and buses is over 17 years. Data here.

Cars in the European Union are on average 10.7 years old. Data here.

The average age of vehicles in Poland is 17.2 years. Daata here.

The average age of vehicles in Romania is 15.3 years. Data here.

The average age of vehicles in Greece is 13.5 years. Data here.

Ethiopia has the lowest car ownership in the world with 2 per 1,000 inhabitants in 2014.

The average age of Ethiopia’s fleet is 15-20 years. Best guess! Data here.

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Survival Maths: Close encounters with Sharks

January 12, 2018

Drone’s Eye View: AWESOME!!!!!

Australia takes it’s sharks very seriously. Shark detecting drones are being trialled on beaches in NSW as a part of the NSW Government’s $16 million Shark Management Strategy. 

The film JAWS has given sharks a bad rap. Here are the STATS:

Deaths by shark attack in the world:

Australia       About 2 a year

USA               1 every 2 years 

UK                  None EVER

CANADA          None EVER

More deaths occur due to falling off chairs in Australia. Quad bikes are deadly anywhere. 

Full Stats and references here.

Meanwhile,  you see a shark fin. You can swim BUT what distance do you need to be from the shark to make it to the beach.

You will find some interesting maths here.

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1. Maths is BORING!

December 9, 2017

Middle School Maths that is AMAZING

psst! That means it’s not boooorrrrinng!

NEW POSTS!

1a. The WORLD POPULATION as ONE BIG CROWD … METRIC

1b. The WORLD POPULATION as ONE BIG CROWD … USA Units

2a. If all the cars in the world were parked together what area would they cover? Metric Units

2b. If all the cars in the world were parked together what area would they cover? USA UNITS

3. If you put the population of the world into AUSTRALIA what area in m2 would we get each?

Meanwhile this Mathspig blog is full of AMAZING middle school maths such as:

KARATE MATHS

HOW MUCH BLOOD CAN YOU LOSE AND SURVIVE?

WHAT VOL OF ALCOHOL IS LETHAL FOR TEENS?

THE TERRIFYING MATH OF RUNNING FROM A BEAR USA UNITS

THE TERRIFYING MATHS OF RUNNING FROM A BEAR METRIC UNITS

PARABOLAS AND THE ART OF SPIITING WATERMELON PIPS

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Why maths is NOT boring!!!!

November 28, 2017

 

Middle School Maths that is AMAZING

psst! That means it’s not boooorrrrinng!

NEW POSTS!

1a. The WORLD POPULATION as ONE BIG CROWD … METRIC

1b. The WORLD POPULATION as ONE BIG CROWD … USA Units

2a. If all the cars in the world were parked together what area would they cover? Metric Units

2b. If all the cars in the world were parked together what area would they cover? USA UNITS

3. If you put the population of the world into AUSTRALIA what area in m2 would we get each?

Meanwhile this Mathspig blog is full of AMAZING middle school maths such as:

KARATE MATHS

HOW MUCH BLOOD CAN YOU LOSE AND SURVIVE?

WHAT VOL OF ALCOHOL IS LETHAL FOR TEENS?

THE TERRIFYING MATH OF RUNNING FROM A BEAR USA UNITS

THE TERRIFYING MATHS OF RUNNING FROM A BEAR METRIC UNITS

PARABOLAS AND THE ART OF SPITING WATERMELON PIPS

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Why Maths is NOT BORING!

November 13, 2017

The Amazing Answer is here.

Mathspig is full of AMAZING middle school maths such as:

KARATE MATHS

HOW MUCH BLOOD CAN YOU LOSE AND SURVIVE?

WHAT VOL OF ALCOHOL IS LETHAL FOR TEENS?

THE TERRIFYING MATH OF RUNNING FROM A BEAR USA UNITS

THE TERRIFYING MATHS OF RUNNING FROM A BEAR METRIC UNITS

PARABOLAS AND THE ART OF SPITTING WATERMELON PIPS

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3. If you put the population of the world into Australia what area would we get each?

November 13, 2017

 

 

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Pi in the Movies

March 8, 2017

Pi Day … 14th March ….. 3.14

Pi Day celebrates an AMERICAN Pi because:

1. AUSTRALIA and UK:

Australia and UK write their dates DD/MM/YY and the 14th March or 14.3 is nothing to get excited about.

2. EUROPE

Pi in Europe is pronounced Pee. So 14th March Would be

Pee Day.

And Pee Day would not be something to encourage in Middle School. Also the perfume below is hilarious in Europe.

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Nevertheless, here are 2 interesting appearances by Pi in the movies plus a middle school challenge to count the Pi’s in the movie clip.

1. A Beautiful Mind

In this movie where Russell Crowe plays Mathematician Nobel Laureate John Nash, there is a maths  blooper involving Pi. Watch for pi on the window at 43 seconds.

You should have seen 0<π<1. But we all know π = 3.1415 etc.  For those mathematically fastidious an argument can be put that π can be used as a variable, which would make the statement true. But π is a universal constant so using π as a variable is just STUPID.

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2. Pi: The Movie

This 1998 psychological thriller promo clip is also the coolest maths promo you will ever see. It is only 1.42 mins long and it is big on π. But be warned the full lenght moive (SPOILER ALERT) involves madness, π and self-lobotomising with a power drill with a ‘happy’ ending.

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Pi Day Challenge:

How many times do you see π in this clip? Watch carefully!!!!!