MaSuD, Mathematics for Sustainable Development

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Using maths to raise awareness on environmental issues

The Mathematics for Sustainable Development (MaSuD) Erasmus+ project combines two educational issues: maths anxiety and raising awareness of environmental issues. Maths anxiety is usually linked with the curriculum and teaching styles experienced in the classroom which often focus on memorisation and recitation, emphasising a black-and-white, right-or-wrong approach (Finlayson, 2014). Even students with high academic performance suffer from maths anxiety. Environmental issues are increasingly present in our society. Implementing the European Green Deal (EU climate neutral by 2050) is possible if Europeans are aware of environmental issues. Raising awareness through education for sustainable development is possible by involving all disciplines, including maths. We believe that learning mathematics through open-ended problems allows students to overcome maths anxiety and acquire various concepts (related or not to maths) and thinking skills.

The MaSuD objectives are:

  • raise students' awareness of environmental issues and sustainable development by having them manipulate mathematical tools that allow them to measure the impact of particular actions;
  • increase students' interest in science and in particular in mathematics by proposing open problems to be dealt with in groups;
  • develop students' maths competences, creativity, cognitive abilities, and collaboration skills;
  • practice written and oral English via international collaboration and communication.

Four partner schools, two French and two Romanian, with some experience in implementing maths research (MeJ) workshops, are working together to reach the project aims.

The maths research workshop for students replicates research activities done by professional researchers. The workshop capitalises on students’ inventiveness and creativity, inviting them to discover maths and carry out research in this field. Working in small groups, students look for maths solutions for a research topic launched by researchers. The students’ activity is facilitated by a teacher and supported by a professional researcher. When completing the research activities, students share their results.

In MaSuD, students work on specific problems and explain their specific impacts on the environment, human health, and the economy; they design a solution by mathematical modelling and explain how their solution helps mitigate negative impacts.

Basic information

Country: France, Romania

Coordinator: Lycée polyvalent Val de Durance, Pertuis, France, http://www.lyc-valdedurance.ac-aix-marseille.fr/spip/

Programme: Erasmus+

Project Acronym:

Target groups: secondary school students

Topic: Environmental sciences, Maths

Start year: 2020

End year: 2023

Url: https://twinspace.etwinning.net/122026/home

Contact person: Ariana-Stanca Vacaretu, ariana.vacaretu (at) gmail.com

To assess the progress in raising the level of environmental awareness and reducing students' maths anxiety, we designed two Google questionnaires to be filled by the MaSuD students at the beginning and at the end of each school year. At the end of each school year, we analyse the findings and publish a report.

Each partner school brings different perspectives to the research. Sharing methods and approaches across partner schools takes place on the eTwinning platform; sharing within each school develops students' skills, their understanding of environmental issues and engagement in the project. In face-to-face discussions, students compare ideas and share cultural practices. For example, the means of transportation to reach a Romanian or French school, a rural or urban school. Energy demand management is different in a Mediterranean environment than a continental one and each establishment may have developed replicable measures. The students used mathematical tools to quantify the impact of such measures.

Through collaborative work, students meet researchers working on the problems the project tackles and the maths tools needed. These meetings with researchers and other professionals who can support them with their research are also enriching for the students' career orientation and further studies. The research work develops students' maths competences, creativity, cognitive and collaboration skills, and therefore their level of achievement in STEM. The students work in groups; thus, each student is able to help colleagues and contribute to their research.

The inquiry-based learning (IBL) approach is fundamental to this project. IBL is used in a collaborative context. Science and maths teachers work together to put it into practice. The research topics as well as the result of the students work are published on the eTwinning platform.

 

 

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