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'Deadly' maths program sees prime future for Indigenous students

September 15, 2015

QUT's YuMi Deadly Centre has been selected to deliver the mathematics element of a new project to direct Indigenous students toward a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) career.

The centre's YuMi Deadly Maths program forms a key part of an Indigenous STEM education project which is managed by CSIRO in partnership with the BHP Billiton Foundation.

The QUT-based program is widely recognised for its kinaesthetic and cultural approach to learning.

The centre's director, Professor Tom Cooper from QUT Faculty of Education said the program had given Indigenous students an edge in mathematics education because it was based on the belief that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students can be strong in mathematics.

He said the program taught the highest level of mathematics but the teaching approach differed from a mainstream method.

"The teaching is dependent on the way the maths is introduced into the culture and background of the students," Professor Cooper said.

He said $3.4 million funding will enable the program to be expanded and taught in 60 additional schools, reaching 336 teachers and 4200 Indigenous students.

The maths element of the STEM education project, called PRIME Futures, targets Foundation to Year 9 students in mainstream metropolitan and regional schools and uses the YuMi Deadly Maths approach to improve student outcomes in mathematics.

Professor Cooper said there was a natural interaction between maths and science.

"I would like to see integrated investigations introduced in the same school to allow students to think through a problem and solve it," he said.

"For example, how to measure a puddle isn't just about capacity, size and depth as the investigation can cross the disciplines with students proposing problems and the right answer will depend on the analysis and data collected."

Watch here as he explains the YuMi Deadly Maths approach.

CSIRO and the BHP Billiton Foundation have partnered on the project to increase representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in STEM-related professions.

CSIRO Indigenous education program director Marian Heard said an increased focus on STEM education could help improve students' ranking among their international peers and secure a stronger economy.

"Many sought-after careers require a solid foundation of mathematics, from engineers to electricians and this program aims to improve students' understanding and increase the number of Indigenous Australians in STEM careers," Ms Heard said.
Media contacts: Debra Nowland, QUT media officer (Mon/Wed/Thurs), +61 7 3138 1150 or hours: Rose Trapnell, 0407 585 901CSIRO Media: Nikki Galovic, Communication Advisor, Email T +61 08 6436 8549

Queensland University of Technology

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