Nov 08 2010 Posted: 00:00 GMT
NUI Galway will host the 2010 Applied Maths Teachers' Association (IAMTA) Conference and Annual General Meeting on Saturday, 13 November. The conference is particularly timely considering the significant changes underway in school mathematics due to the introduction of the new project Maths curriculum. The conference will consist of a series of panel discussions and keynote addresses, giving teachers of applied maths the opportunity to explore current issues and future directions of the subject in schools. Bill Lynch, the Director of the National Council of Curriculum and Assessment, who has overseen the introduction of Project Maths will be on a panel, together with P J Rudden, a highly distinguished engineer with a very real stake and insight into how maths is used by people who want to improve Irish society. Other panellists include Dean of Science, Professor Tom Sherry, an applied mathematician in NUI Galway, Piaras ó hEachteirn, the head of Civil Engineering in NUI Galway and Peter Doyle from Actuaries Ireland. "Applied mathematics, the school subject, is not so well understood by the general public. Although only 1500 students take the exam in applied maths, there is no subject on the current Irish curriculum which better equips students to think like mathematical problem solvers. Students who have taken applied maths have a head start adapting to third level", says Dr Kevin Jennings, mathematician and Co-Director of BA in Mathematics and Education at NUI Galway. The new maths curriculum will bring challenges to applied maths teachers, who will have to adapt their teaching to the students' new skillsets. However, the maths reform will hopefully encourage more and more students to take this fascinating subject. Many students study the subject outside of regular class time; in Galway City only St Patrick's Patrician School (the Bish) offers the subject within regular class hours. Mr Brendan Doheny from the Bish was awarded the Victor Graham trophy in 2009 for excellence in teaching applied maths. The conference will give teachers the space and time to reflect on applied maths and the concerns and challenges surrounding teaching it as well as the opportunities for the development of the subject into the future. Dr Jennings adds: "This conference is very important to promote applied mathematics and to plan for its future. Teachers from all over Ireland will be on campus that weekend to work on this. For us in the University it's a wonderful opportunity to work with our colleagues in the schools and to advise them of the diverse and interesting third and fourth level options available to their applied maths students."