Swinburne partners with Mathspace to facilitate KIOSC Theta World Competition

Knox Innovation Opportunity and Sustainability Centre (KIOSC) and its partner schools have partnered with Mathspace to facilitate the KIOSC Theta World competition.

KIOSC was established in 2012 under the Australian Government Trade Training Centres in Schools (TTC) program as a partnership between the Knox Consortium of Secondary Schools and Swinburne as the Registered Training Organisation.

KIOSC provides secondary school students with opportunities that excite and inspire them about STEM education and careers of the future. The Theta World competition is for Year 7 students who have worked under extreme duress with almost a full year of remote learning – a far cry from what most students experience in the first year of their secondary school life. By basing this problem-solving competition within the context of a theme park, KIOSC aims to highlight a fun, creative application of mathematics in the real world.

After a challenging year and a long period of lockdown in Victoria, KIOSC is using this competition as an opportunity to help teachers diagnose gaps in student learning. The differentiated instructional tasks within the Theta World meet students at their level to help them progress through the competition, but also to help build confidence and belief in their capacity to succeed.

Dr Kulari Lokuge, the Director of KIOSC, explained that “during a pandemic, they [teachers] have not had the opportunity to gauge where individual students are placed; missing out on the classroom learning environment has reduced personalised learning opportunities. The challenge for the teachers is to provide differentiated learning activities that cater to individual students. This is an opportunity to identify and support students learning through a fun and interactive manner.”

The Theta World competition allows teachers to create a rich, carefully scaffolded problem-based learning experience for students.

The Theta World competition is for Year 7 students who have worked under intense pressure with almost a full year of remote learning.

How does the competition work?

  • Year 7 students within KIOSC’s partner schools take part individually.
  • The competition runs for three weeks. Each week there is an application/problem-solving type question that students need to work out.
  • To facilitate this, the KIOSC team create Custom Tasks on Mathspace to scaffold learning. Students complete the Mathspace tasks to develop an understanding of mathematical concepts, then apply this understanding to the problems posed in their Theta World theme park.
  • Student responses to these problem-solving tasks score towards the school total.

Mathspace’s role in the competition

Swinburne’s KIOSC team has identified several key reasons why they chose Mathspace to maximise the impact of KIOSC’s competition:

  • Teachers can use Mathspace to see the learning progression of students.
  • Teachers can easily identify knowledge gaps and then act on them.
  • Teachers can easily create differentiated tasks to ensure students are revising appropriate content that will build their mathematical confidence.
  • Students step-by-step working means Mathspace has the incredible capability to record students’ learning activities, including the attempts, and percentage of accuracy.
  • It also has a wide range of questions that are suitable for the Victorian curriculum.

Swinburne looks forward to seeing the fantastic work these students create.

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