The pilot-testing phase
The pilot-testing phase of the project has already taken place!
More than 300 students from schools Externato Oliveira Martins, in Espinho (Portugal), and Sandgärdskolan, in Sandared (Sweden), had the opportunity to pilot-test about a dozen Analytical Tools during their classes with STEM teachers, as well as give feedback about them.
These Analytical Tools were developed by the consortium and allowed to identify how mathematical concepts surround us and have been relied on for centuries in a range of different areas, such as Visual Arts, Music, Theatre, Cinematography and Literature. In Externato Oliveira Martins, 4 of the Analytical Tools pilot-tested most popular amongst students were:
- Geometry in Islamic Art:
Concerning this theme, with the right tools, students reproduced shapes and patterns, such as the 6, 8 and 12-pointed stars. Exploring these patterns and shapes enabled students to discover and identify the mathematical concepts, such as symmetries, geometric transformations and dimensions in space, that lie behind Islamic artistic compositions and understand the practical use of maths in Islamic Art.
- Pythagoras and his Mathematical Music:
The implementation of this Analytical Tool allowed a very dynamic, team working and…harmonizing class, to say the least! Pythagoras, the responsible genius for discovering the mathematical relation behind musical notes, was introduced to students and his method for discovering such relations demonstrated through videos. As a hands-on activity, by using glass bottles with different amounts of water, students reproduced sounds with different frequencies and were even challenged to play Jingle Bells!
- Polyhedra and Perspective:
In this class, students took the time to learn about Linear Perspective, a technique that uses a mathematical system to create an illusion of depth on a flat surface. Afterwards, Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece “The Last Supper”, as a classical example of the usage of Linear Perspective, was analysed. To wrap up the session, students had the opportunity to hold and examine the 5 platonic solids and practice their painting skills.
- The Mathematical Art of M. C. Escher
In this tool, students got to know M. C. Escher’s broad collection of woodcut and lithograph artistic compositions. By analysing some of his work, students were able to identify its relationship with mathematical concepts such as reflection, symmetries, polyhedral and even impossible structures. In the end, students were challenged to draw one of the most famous M. C. Escher’s impossible objects: the impossible Cube!
The feedback from students was rather positive: they said some of the methods used to teach allowed them to understand concepts in a smoother way while at the same time having a different and funny class. In addition, they said the activities were interesting and helped them keep motivated in classes!
Even though sometimes students’ attitudes towards Maths is not positive, introducing different methods of teaching, such as promoting hands-on activities to demonstrate the applicability of Maths in daily-life, has the capacity to capture their attention and interest!