High School students scanning barcodes with different commands such as clap-controlled driving using Edison robots during Africa Science Week.

“I used to perform poorly in Math but after this experience Math is going to be my best subject” said Ann one of the participants during Africa Science Week in December 2018. One of the high school principals who sent their girls during this Science week shared with us that the camp had a lasting impact on students attitudes towards Math when we visited the school together with Mike, a colleague. And this was just a week-long camp organized by African Math Initiative supported by Next Einstein ForumThe Mawazo Institute, L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science and Johnson & Johnson . It introduced students to programming, robotics, mathematical thinking, statistics, numerous puzzles, card games and many more. (You can watch this video to learn more)

These two scenarios got me into thinking. Is it important to introduce students into a new awareness that provokes deep thought and a sense of wonder? How can Math be made cheerful in a way that students not only appreciate the value of Math in real life but also demystify that Math is a tough subject? Would you (as an educator, teacher, lecturer or even a parent) want students who otherwise had negative attitudes towards Math just like the student I wrote about earlier to proclaim that “I need math to succeed in life, but it’s also cool! I couldn’t do it but now, I can do it”

Mathematical thinking and puzzles could help you get there. You’ll be able to provoke deep thinking and even collaboration among students seeking to solve some of the puzzles. African Maths Initiative has been promoting the establishment of Math clubs in schools by developing Math club packs with numerous and exciting puzzles.

Introducing technology in learning could also be a great way to encourage learning. This does not mean the acquisition of top notch technology that offers zero quality in terms of educational content. We’ve made numerous visits to schools and found out that existing technology does not bare quality educational materials that have the ability to ignite learning passions among students.

During our camps, Edison Robots, statistical software  and technology such as Gapminder and R-Instat, Kolibri and Blockly games have featured greatly in our sessions. This is because of their ability to excite and introduce learners to programming and statistics in a fun way while at the same time delivering quality learning.

Most of these activities tend to promote collaboration, communication, critical thinking and problem solving and these are some of the most important skills of the 21st century and hence they need to introduced to learners as early as possible. It’s also through these sessions that learners get to understand that Math is a way of life and there are numerous benefits if embraced.

Follow this link to find out more on how to support African Maths Initiative.

 Patrick can be reached at patrick@africanmathsinitiative.net or twitter @PatrykNjoroge  



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