Friday 14 December 2018

The maths behind future careers

Niamh O’Meara, University of Limerick lecturer, with students Megan Hough, Adam Magill, Maria Horan and teacher Celine Finn at the launch of Career Mathways at St Brendan’s Community School, Birr. PHOTO: DAMIEN EAGERS
Niamh O’Meara, University of Limerick lecturer, with students Megan Hough, Adam Magill, Maria Horan and teacher Celine Finn at the launch of Career Mathways at St Brendan’s Community School, Birr. PHOTO: DAMIEN EAGERS
Joanna Donnelly

What do RTE sports commentator Jacqui Hurley, meteorologist Joanna Donnelly and US lawyer Dean Strang, well-known for his role in the Netflix documentary series Making A Murderer, have in common? Maths plays and central role in their day-to-day work and they all feature in a new Transition Year programme called Career Mathways.

Career Mathways was designed by a team of maths education researchers at Epi-Stem, the national centre for STEM education, based in the University of Limerick.

Hurley, Donnelly and Strang, and 10 other professionals, recorded interviews with the Epi-Stem team in which they explore the different types of maths they use in their careers and highlight how important it is to be proficient in the subject. For instance, Strang speaks about the importance of statistics and probability in his role as a defence lawyer.

The Epi-Stem team used the videos to develop a suite of resources, including innovative teaching and learning plans and student workbooks, featuring authentic, real-world problems.

Over eight weeks, students in schools where the programme is being piloted will engage in a series of lessons that will look in detail at the maths used across the 13 different professions. The videos will help teachers answer the common question: "Where will I use this again?"

In the current school year, Career Mathways is being trialled in Crescent College Comprehensive, Ardscoil Rís and Castletroy College (all in Limerick), St Leo's College, Co Carlow, St Brendan's Community School, Birr, Co Offaly and Coláiste Phádraig, Lucan, Co Dublin.

The project is funded by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and is supported by the Irish Independent. SFI's Margie McCarthy said "creating a space where students can interact with STEM role models is crucial in encouraging them to pursue careers in maths and other science-related fields".

Irish Independent

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