Canadian Mathematical Society
Canadian Mathematical Society
  location:  Communitycms endowment grantsoverview
Title of Project: Community Appreciation of Mathematics through Outreach

Year of Competition: 2012

Grant amount: $2200

Project Duration: Single Year

Type of Report: Annual

Period Covered: January to Sept 2013

Description of Activity:
The key word is "outreach" and the reality is that this takes math into the community, typically classrooms in various schools. In addition, the outreach has included participation in a STEM Expo organized by the school district. The STEM Expo event is noteworthy as an example in that 8 prospective teachers (B.Ed. students) volunteered to run the activities and host the exhibit alongside of myself.

There have been many visits to classrooms in the Fredericton area, in addition to visits to schools in locations such as St. Andrews and St. Stephen where longer events, up to a full day, have involved multiple classes. This is not a final report, and pending events include an excursion up river to Woodstock where a one day trip will include a morning visit to a Grade 4 class, and then an afternoon with Grades 11 and 12 students at a high school. In addition, groups of education students will be coordinating visits to elementary and middle school classrooms this month. A poster exhibit is also scheduled for October.

Assessment of Effectiveness:
The mathematical community is aware of the outreach in that teachers, students and parents show a keen interest in the efforts. For instance at the STEM Expo there were well over a hundred visitors to the exhibit including many parents who enjoyed playing mathematical games along with their children. Teachers are engaged in conversations with us at all visits, including discussions about math education in schools. Many administrators informally speak to colleagues in the Faculty of Education, who in turn bring back positive feedback to us as facilitators and volunteers. The B.Ed. students value the experiences and demonstrate their support by offering to volunteer again, and upon graduation. In addition, the outreach has supported events such as the CMS Math Camp and a local initiative of Science East (the regional science centre).

The outreach efforts have been building since 2010 with funding from AARMS throughout that period. This year the support of both AARMS and CMS have allowed for greater scope in the outreach efforts.

The outreach has (in)directly contributed to an award as John Grant McLoughlin is receiving the 2013 Adrien Pouliot Award in Ottawa. Two supporting letters were sent from people (co-authors of the letters in each case) involved directly in this outreach, including Ryan Jones and Kelda Smith (the two graduates who have been most involved in the outreach) and Chris Treadwell and Wendy Sinclair (a principal and classroom teacher) at the school and classroom we have visited more than any other over the past few years.

The outreach work continues to be publicized in the local community, along with short articles such as in the CMS Notes. The Education Session at the 2013 CMS Summer Meeting in Halifax focused on the theme of outreach. Also, the experiences will be integrated into the Pouliot Lecture in December.

Related to the outreach, Ryan Jones wrote extensively on this topic in his Master's Project that was presented in the Faculty of Education at UNB in the summer. His project is now in a bound unpublished form.

Future Plans (if any):
The outreach will certainly continue. There is a strong momentum that has been built in recent years, and the challenge is to continue moving forward with this energy. There is no shortage of invitations or welcomes for the efforts.

Some of the immediate plans were identified in the reporting section above. The outreach is at a crossroads in some sense in that there are so many places one can go while acknowledging that continuity is valuable too. An effort to engage future and current teachers in the activities is critical to the decisions made, as this aspect of the impact is significant.

Future plans will depend upon some funding issues also, as discussed below.

At this point approximately $1200 of the funds have been accounted for, leaving about $1000 to cover future costs in the remainder of the year. The bulk of the costs go toward travel with about $100 in the form of taxi charges for local school visits thus far. Rental and/or gas charges for vehicles have cost about $700, thus, enabling multiple visits to schools including those outside of the Fredericton area (the only reason a car would be rented). Costs have been shared for such things, in that on some occasion funds from AARMS have been used for the rental and on others from CMS, and the gas costs would then be charged to the other. An additional $300 have been provided as honoraria, in lieu, of a person being available to substitute teach. AARMS funding provided support for a work study student who contributed directly to this outreach also. Remaining costs have been allocated to some resources and printing costs.

The unused funds will be largely used in late November and early December when the scheduling of classes permits out of town outreach visits to take place. It is such occasions that events will typically take the full day, and hence, support is required. Therefore, funds will be required to book support staff along with travel costs. One of the intentions underlying the outreach efforts in this grant proposal was to get to rural locations and places beyond the Fredericton region. This is one of the windows for such travel, as is the event next week up river.

It must be emphasized that the collaboration with other organizations such as Math Circles at Dalhousie, as well as AARMS, have allowed for greater distance to be achieved from the same pull. That is, the effect of the outreach has been greater. In kind contributions from UNB have also been helpful to the project.

Contact Name: John Grant McLoughlin

[October 14, 2013]

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