Maths and Science videos combine entertainment and education
Mathematical Moments is a series of short videos which was developed by Dr Aisling Twohill and Midlands Science to present mathematics to children and parents as both attractive and accessible. Picture-books are an established tool in facilitating children to engage with maths concepts in a child-centred way. Two of the Mathematical Moments videos will develop children’s ideas around spatial relations and fractions through the stories of ‘Winnie the Witch’ and ‘Mama Panya’s Pancakes’. Encountering mathematics through appealing fictional contexts has multiple benefits for children, including developing appreciation for maths, raising awareness of maths as part of everyday life and providing opportunities to think through what might otherwise be tricky concepts.
Too many mathematics videos available are digitised chalk-and-talk where children passively copy what an “expert” demonstrates. The Irish primary school mathematics curriculum positions children as mathematicians who are interested and engaged with mathematical ideas. In both the BEd and PMEP, student-teachers are encouraged to connect mathematics to the world around children, and to draw on creative and innovative resources for teaching. One of the motivations for producing these videos was to prompt student teachers to see how video can be used to teach children in a child-centred and appealing way. While the picture book videos are pitched at junior classes, two more videos explore the Fibonacci sequence and the role of the base 10 number system in the History of Number, connecting the evolution of mathematical ideas with concepts such as sequences and place value.
In addition to Mathematical Moments, Aisling Twohill has developed teaching materials to accompany the Midlands Science series of Science at Home videos. Due to the generalist nature of primary school teaching, and the multiple subject areas that require focus each week, it is very challenging to blend new resources and content into existing plans for a class. The Science at Home teaching materials seek to do some of this work for teachers, by identifying where the videos slot into the primary school science curriculum, and also by making meaningful connections to the curricula of other subject areas. Teaching materials include a detailed schedule for two Croke Park hours where schools can plan for the teaching of science, including the use of the Science at Home videos.
The Midlands Science Mathematical Moments and Science at Home videos have been warmly received, with media coverage in many regional newspapers in the Midlands, and inclusion in RTE Learn’s midterm schedule of activities.