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“Why Do We Need to Know This?” O PENING S TUDENTS ’ E YES TO R EAL -W ORLD A PPLICATIONS OF M ATH Laura Billing and Scott Hagan, Math Dept., BCIT

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“Why Do We Need to Know This?” Students often do not see how math is relevant to them. Real-life applications motivate students to learn the related math. Young adults are not choosing technical careers in the numbers necessary to sustain the workforce.

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Lack of Young Adults in Technical Fields “…Students are often not aware of the fact that they cause a foreclosure of many exciting and interesting professions to choose from by not enrolling in mathematics and physics during the last year in school.” See also: http://www.conferenceboard.ca/hcp/Details/education/graduates- science-math-computer-science-engineerin.aspxhttp://www.conferenceboard.ca/hcp/Details/education/graduates- science-math-computer-science-engineerin.aspx Addressing British Columbia's Technological and Engineering Skills Shortage (BC Chamber of Commerce Report, 2009): “…eligibility for an enrolment in science and engineering related faculties is very low, which causes an insufficient supply of technologists and engineers for the future.”

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“The Project” We know you have no time to collect applications from diverse fields so we would like to do it for you. The plan is to develop a package of application questions relevant to high school curriculum topics. Each problem is completely self-contained, requiring nothing other than a knowledge of the requisite math.

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Web-Based Delivery On-line delivery of individualized assignments that are automatically graded Maple T.A. has been used successfully for on-line assessment at BCIT, so was the natural choice to deliver these application problems Oh, and it’s a Canadian product Maple T.A. allows a variety of question formats and elements, versatility in assignments, and is supported by a world-renowned analytical engine.

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Diverse Applications of Mathematics Our math department teaches to a variety of fields, tailoring problems to each program. BCIT’s math faculty are uniquely placed to know how math is applied. Sample problems shown are related to a number of different fields.

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Individualized Visual Elements Visual elements keyed to numbers in the problem improve students’ grasp of the application context

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Collaborative Learning Every student receives a slightly different problem. Allows students to discuss how to solve the problem not what the answer is. Could be used for a class project or enrichment homework.

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Portability Questions can be answered on-line or printed for off-line work Can be used in either the computer lab or the classroom Students can access questions at home, for extra practice and enrichment

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Ability to Redo Assignments Teachers can set up assignments to allow students to retake them – once, twice or as often as the student likes Students love it because they’re allowed to improve their grade… …but they’re really just getting more practice and improving their understanding

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Feedback Many different customizable levels of feedback: Grading an assignment provides instant feedback, including (optionally) the correct answer. Teacher can choose whether or not to allow students to “check” their answers before grading. Full solutions will be available to teachers and, if desired, students.

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The Problem Young adults are not choosing technical careers They may not be aware of the opportunity cost involved in neglecting math Not knowing that math plays a role in some of their prospective careers might erode students’ motivation

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Our Proposal What we can offer: A PPLICATIONS Questions that demonstrate real applications of topics in the high school curriculum A delivery mechanism that allows students to learn from each other What we would like from you: F EEDBACK What did you like? What didn’t you like? Would you use a product like this? Why or why not? What curriculum topics and grade levels would you like to see addressed?

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“The Project” - Are You Interested? L AURA B ILLING, Math Dept., BCIT Laura_Billing@bcit.ca S COTT H AGAN, Math Dept., BCIT Scott_Hagan@bcit.ca

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