All Victorian secondary schools are now able to access the Wolfram software suite, thanks to a three-year agreement made with the Department.
The Wolfram suite of products includes powerful learning tools across science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and is internationally recognised as the global industry standard for engineers, economists, scientists and mathematicians. The suite has four unique applications in the areas of computation, problem modelling, coding and more:
Mathematica: Computation software with a broad range of functionality including graphical, geometric, numerical, symbolic, financial and statistical computations.
SystemModeler: A complete physical modelling and simulation tool to explore system behaviour across multiple domains.
Alpha Pro: A powerful tool for finding answers through dynamic computations on built-in data, algorithms and methods.
Programming Lab: An environment to learn programming language and modern computational thinking.
The licence arrangement covers all school and personal devices for all secondary school teachers and students. Each product can be downloaded individually on student and teacher devices using a vic.edu.au or education.vic.gov.au email. Find out more and get your licence here or go to the eduSTAR software catalogue and search for Wolfram.
Limited professional learning places are available for Secondary Science and Mathematics teachers on Friday 14 October in Carlton.
Our guest blogger this week is Erin Jackson from Kennington Primary School
What is Mystery Skype?
Mystery Skype is a game played through Skype between two classes. Each class aims to work out the location of the other class, by taking in turns to ask yes/no questions. The winner is the first class to work out the location of the other.
Students take on different roles while playing the game. There are many websites that list different roles that can be undertaken, but I like to keep it simple. I have:
2 scribes, who record information on a whiteboard
2 speakers, who sit in front of my laptop, asking and answering questions
Researchers – all other students use their iPads to research and come up with questions to ask.
The first, and probably most obvious, benefit of playing Mystery Skype is the improvement in students’ geographical knowledge. It has helped to improve my students’ mental maps of the world and to improve their understanding of where we are in the world. It has also helped them to develop their knowledge of different cultures around the world.
Secondly, there are many mathematical benefits, such as map-reading, directions and time zones. Playing Mystery Skype often highlights concepts that we, as teachers, may take for granted that students understand; for example, what the different lines on Google Maps represent.
Mystery Skype also lends itself well to the English domain. The game naturally requires students to listen attentively to the questions and answers, whilst building on their comprehension, research and visual literacy skills. They develop their ability to ask ‘good’ and ‘follow-up’ questions, as well as whole-group and small-group discussion skills, such as negotiating.
Finally, my students have a high level of engagement when playing the game. My students often ask when we will have the next Mystery Skype and are always excited to come to school if they know we have one organised. They work together as a team and feel a real sense of pride and excitement when they are able to work out where the other school is.
Where to start
Start by creating a Skype account and joining ‘Skype in the Classroom’ (http://education.skype.com). Go to #MysterySkype and send out some messages to teachers you might like to skype. I usually send out about 5 messages with a given time and date, as not all teachers will reply or may have other commitments at that time. I also give the time in my time zone and convert to their time as well. Once a teacher replies, add them to your Skype account and you are ready to go! You might like to send them a message through Skype on the organised day to ensure the other grade are still able to participate in the game.
For Grade P-2 students, try beginning by playing Mystery Skype with local schools or other schools in the same state. For Grade 3-4 students, try other schools in Australia or capital cities/major towns in other countries. For older students, use towns/cities outside of capital cities in other countries. I aim to choose places that fit with my Integrated Studies topics, such as Thailand when we were studying Asia for Geography or a school on the Ring of Fire when learning about earthquakes. You might like to prepare something to share at the end, such as 5 facts about your town.
Mathematica is a powerful global computation system that can handle all the various aspects of technical computing–and beyond–in a coherent and unified way. It is industry standard software used in the sciences, engineering, commerce, computer science and software development.
Conrad Wolfram, physicist, mathematician, businessman and technologist is Director of Strategic Development and European Co-Founder/CEO of the Wolfram group of companies. Conrad is also the world’s leading advocate for a fundamental shift of maths education to become computer-based, arguing that this is the key way to address issues in global maths education and move forward.
His widely acknowledged 2010 TED talk laid out the rationale and roadmap for this rethink and the same year he founded computerbasedmath.org (CBM) to drive implementation of the change. The movement is now a worldwide force in re-developing STEM curriculum and in February 2013 it was announced that Estonia would be the first partner country.
Wolfram Research and Mathematica Software
The Wolfram Group specializes in pushing boundaries at the intersection of computation, maths and knowledge, including making Mathematica software, the Wolfram Alpha knowledge engine (powering knowledge answers for Apple’s Siri), the Computable Document Format (CDF) standard, the newly announced Wolfram Language and forthcoming Wolfram Cloud.
Since 2011, Mathematica has been available to all Victorian DEECD secondary students and teachers via the eduSTAR image.
The importance of math to jobs, society and thinking has increased exponentially over the last few decades. Meanwhile, maths education globally has slipped backwards. Why has this chasm opened up? Computers are the key to addressing this challenge effectively – when computers do the calculating, people can work on harder questions, try more concepts, and play with a multitude of new ideas.
Conrad Wolfram will discuss his major project to build a completely new curriculum in mathematics with computer-based computation at its heart – covering the rationale for the change, how it’s being manifested and how Victoria is well placed to be at the forefront.
Who should attend Conrad Wolfram’s Session?
Anyone with an interest in mathematics education, in particular, school leaders, teachers and teacher educators, system representatives, policy makers and education researchers should attend. This is a unique opportunity to hear from one of the leading global thinkers in mathematics education and technology here in Melbourne.
Session Details and Registration:
May 27, 2.30pm – 3.30pm
BASTOW 603-615 Queensberry Street North Melbourne
Register here PLEASE NOTE: This is a free event. When you register and get to the payment section just choose credit card or invoice payment and it will progress through to a zero invoice and not require any payment.
A number of regional venues will also be linking to the presentation via Polycom video-conferencing.
Check out this collection of videos – 8 Math talks to blow your mind. Mathematics gets down to work in these talks, breathing life and logic into everyday problems. Prepare for math puzzlers both solved and unsolvable, and even some still waiting for solutions.
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