Australia is in the bottom third of all OECD nations in the proportion of girls studying mathematics and technology at undergraduate level. The representation of girls entering technology-related study at tertiary level over the past decade has averaged 11%. There is an urgent need for cultural change in attitudes and processes for encouraging girls into these disciplines. One of the key issues in female students undertaking tertiary study in technology disciplines is the importance of maintaining mathematics as a subject beyond the compulsory secondary school years. Within Australia, the study of mathematics at senior school levels has been in decline for over two decades. This project used the advanced technology available on a university campus to introduce secondary school girls (years 9 and 10) to creative workshop opportunities. A key aim of the project was to stimulate interest in technology and mathematics amongst young female secondary students. The girls had opportunities to engage with technology such as 3D printers, Computer aided design (CAD), and advanced manufacturing robotics to design solutions to real-world problems. Existing research indicates the importance of group work, peer mentoring, and role modelling in girls’ learning styles and these techniques were used in the university settings. Students were engaged with the capability to conceive, design, implement, and operate technical systems and equipment.
Project results indicated significant student satisfaction with the use of the advanced technology and its capabilities; greater interest in technology-related careers; and a deeper understanding of the importance of studying mathematics in senior secondary years. The success of the project has also fuelled interest for on-going partnerships and student workshops. Such interest and understanding benefits not only the individual student, but future Australian society.
McLaughlin, Patricia and Kennedy, Belinda
"Making Something Out of Mathematics: Using Advanced Technology to Interest Secondary School Girls in Mathematics,"
Journal of Educational Leadership in Action: Vol. 4:
1, Article 2.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.lindenwood.edu/ela/vol4/iss1/2
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