The fourth session by Ainley reported on the Fibonacci project, integrating inquiry in mathematics and science education. It was good to hear that the word ‘utility’ that was used, did not refer to a utilitarian view of maths, i.c. that everything should have a clear purpose. I mention this as discussions about utility often tend to end in comments like ‘what’s the point of doing algebra’? Actually, I think that does have a purpose, amongst others ‘analytical thinking’ but I prefer steering clear from these types of pointless discussions. The best slide, I though, was a slide with science, statistics and mathematics in the columns and rows with a distinction in, for example, their purpose.
It formed a coherent picture of STEM. The two examples for integrative projects were ‘building a zoo’ which I didn’t like when it concerned the context of fences that had to be built. It’s the lack of creativity that often is in textbooks as well. the second project, on gliders, was more interesting but the mathematical component seemed to belong more in statistics used. I would loved to have seen a good mathematical example.
The fifth session by Hassler and Blair was about Open Educational Resources. The project, funded by JISC, acknowledged three freedoms: legal, technical and educational. It is a project that boasted a website with educational resources, free to use, keywords and with pdf creator. Although nicely implemented, to me, it seemed to be a bit ‘yet another portal’. The individual elements weren’t that novel either, with for example a book creator also in the Activemath project. The most interesting thing was the fact that the materials were aimed at ‘interactive teaching’.
The sixth and last session was a presentation by Kislenko from Estiona. She described how in Estonia a new curriculum was implemented for educating teachers in mathematics and natural sciences. It was an interesting story, although I was wondering how ‘new’ it was, as the title had the term ‘innovative’ in it.
Together with some networking these sessions made up an interesting and useful day in Cambridge.