Posted May 10 , 2013

Real World Problems

Maplesoft and British Columbia Institute of Technology partner to promote applications of math in high schools

Efforts aimed at increasing interest in science and technology (STEM) careers

Waterloo/Burnaby - Maplesoft and the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) yesterday announced a partnership that will give high school students the tools and technology required to apply math in real world problems and solutions. BCIT’s new Building Better Math database of problems is now embedded in Maplesoft’s powerful testing and assessment tool, Maple T.A. Using the Building Better Math database in Maple T.A. will help high school students practice math in various scientific and technical industries.

Many high school students are avoiding math, and inadvertently forgoing exciting and well-paid technical careers, because they do not realize the significance of math in a wide range of fields. Parents and teachers are often faced with the question “why do I need to learn this?” With few real world math problems in today’s high-school curriculum, a convincing answer is often not apparent. In July 2012, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives warned that Canada could lose ground in the global economy unless more high school students decide to pursue science-related careers.

“High school students need math to succeed in so many sectors, and BCIT wants to keep them engaged in math in those critical years, giving them far more career pathway choices,” says Paul Dangerfield, vice president of Education, Research and International at BCIT. “Students don’t always understand how important math is to their future. If we can show them how the math from high school is actually used in a wide range of careers, they will be more likely to take the time to learn and practice.”

After years of engaging their own post-secondary students with real-life applications of mathematics, BCIT embarked on an ambitious project to bring the same kinds of excitement to the high school classroom through the Building Better Math project. Maple T.A will generate a different question for each student, every time they try an assignment, offering many advantages:

• Students can collaborate on the problem-solving process while still doing individual work to find their own unique answer
• Assignments are graded automatically – students can get extra practice without increasing the teacher’s workload
• Immediate feedback reinforces successful strategies through formative assessment

“New challenges in industry are creating an urgent need for talent in many technical domains,” said Laurent Bernardin, executive vice president, Maplesoft. “The philosophy of our company is that given great tools, people can do great things. We believe this to be especially true of students, who can be driven to greater heights when guided in the right direction. We are pleased to partner with BCIT to help students find their way to exciting technical careers.”

BCIT’s new Building Better Math questions help high school students practice math through real world applications in engineering, health care, geosciences, renewable resources, oceanography, forensics, architecture, and other industries. Questions are designed by professionals in each field, and help clarify and cement concepts teachers have covered in class.

The fall 2013 database launch includes pre-selected assignments which match the chapter contents of the WNCP Grade 10 textbooks in use in BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Yukon, Nunavut, and Canada’s Northern Territories. This content also fits at a similar level in many jurisdictions using other material. As well, the database contains many questions suited for students in grades 11 and 12 pre-calculus courses.

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