Connecting Math to Our Lives and Communities
“Connecting Math to Our Lives and Communities” began in 2015 and is run by St. Francis Xavier University’s Faculty of Education and Mathematics Department in cooperation with local Mi’kmaw and African Nova Scotian communities. The program was designed for students in grades 4 through 12 as a means to encourage youth to examine and investigate the value of mathematics in their lives and develop an appreciation for how mathematics can have power to shape their futures. Through such learning, students are supported and encouraged to participate in further studies in mathematics and science, and develop an increased confidence in their mathematical abilities as well as provide opportunities for students to see that mathematics can be a powerful tool for helping the world.
Connecting Math to Our Lives and Communities runs in four Mi’kmaw and two African Nova Scotian communities in Eastern Nova Scotia. The program brings StFX Bachelor of Education students and undergraduate science and math students into the communities biweekly to explore topics of interest to the youth. Project work is focused on reading and writing the world with mathematics through the explorations of social justice issues such as water security and the environment, to patterns and logical reasoning, including technology and coding.
In the past 5 years we have delivered over 40 sessions, with attendance reaching over 200 participants annually. While the program was originally designed for students in grades 7-12, interest from students in the communities caused us to expand the grade levels to include grades 4 through 6 with modifications for even younger students who might arrive. Feedback from participants has been overwhelmingly positive, offering descriptions of the program as fun, interesting, and a good learning experience. As one students said, “It is an interesting program. Every kid or teen would enjoy this. It makes you learn and it is fun.”
Each year, a final celebration day is held on campus which brings students together with community leaders, Elders, and university faculty to share traditional knowledge and make mathematical connections. Students participate in morning workshops focused on cultural activities that require math such as basket making, beading, quillwork, storytelling, games, Waltes, as well as learning from StFX faculty from mathematics, physics, biology, nursing, business and more who share the ways they use mathematics in their ow work. In the afternoon, the annual Amazing Math Race allows students to explore campus while learning new math concepts and consolidating what was learned throughout the program.
In 2017, we were awarded an NSERC Promoscience grant to continue to build our programs. Each summer we add to our collection of ideas and resources to bring new math explorations to our students. Click on the CMTOLC Outreach tab above to find some resources for at-home or in school learning. Check back often as we are always adding new resources. Anyone with questions about or interest in the program may wish to contact Lisa Lunney Borden (firstname.lastname@example.org), Tara Taylor (email@example.com) or Robert van den Hoogen (firstname.lastname@example.org).