Bunbury school finds new ways to get students excited about maths

Maths magic: Newton Moore Senior High School head of mathematics Ashley Stewart with Year 8 students/computer coding participants Rebehl Coomer and Barry Narkle. Photo: Thomas Munday.
Maths magic: Newton Moore Senior High School head of mathematics Ashley Stewart with Year 8 students/computer coding participants Rebehl Coomer and Barry Narkle. Photo: Thomas Munday.

Newton Moore Senior High School has developed a new way of getting its students re-invested in mathematics. 

For three weeks in term four, the mathematics department held “processing for drawing” classes for 16 students from the Year 8 boys Living and Leading group. 

Newton Moore SHS head of mathematics Ashley Stewart said the students learned about maths through computer coding activities. 

“A lot of the boys like to draw, they like to do that in a variety of classes, so I thought to engage them in mathematics we would get them to do ‘coding for drawing’,” she said. 

“So they actually got to use something that they really liked but put it into a mathematics application. 

“That was the idea – getting them engaged through something other than basic mathematics.” 

Ms Stewart had found male students typically became disengaged with maths after finding it uninteresting or above their comprehension. 

Throughout the course, the group learned more about scales, ratios, the X-Y plane and coordinates. 

Ms Stewart revealed the mix of drawing and mathematics gave the students more enthusiasm for the subject. 

“They were interested in the fact that what they were doing could lead them somewhere,” she said. 

“With this, it was maths with an ‘end’ and that’s what they liked.” 

The head of mathematics has plans to hold future rounds of “processing for drawing” earlier in the school year. 

Ms Stewart said engagement in mathematics helped people to understand the world around them. 

“There’s a lot of maths that can be used after school but I think sometimes we forget to show how it can be,” she said.

Ms Stewart has coordinated multiple initiatives designed to generate interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics classes.

She said STEM subjects provided students with real-world skills to benefit the community. 

NMSHS’s maths head was recently awarded the 2017 Choose Maths Mentoring Girls in Maths Award.

Ms Stewart said she would use the $20,000 reward to fund future STEM projects. 

RELATED: Teacher Ashley Stewart wins national maths award.