Virtual Classroom or developing key math competences

When I was in school, learning math was sometimes excruciating experience. We had to memorize formulas or to remember how to calculate answers often skipping the steps to understanding why and how this is done. This of course made the learning process extremely boring and managing to turn off many kids from a subject that is interesting and often very creative.

Nowadays there are many projects that focus on interactive learning, providing explanation and many examples, as well as practical training to aid the learning process. Such a system is the developed one called MASCIL, which was funded through EU 7th Framework Program. MASCIL is an acronym describing “Mathematics and Science for life” and it promotes inquiry-based teaching in math and science in primary and secondary schools.  funnel

What inquiry-based teaching does is to posing questions, problems or scenarios to the students without giving only the formulas and facts. The goal is for students to reach the path of knowledge with the teacher being facilitator to the process and vessels of the knowledge.  

The MASCIL project, among many things develops portals with various math and science problems for students to solve in a hands-on experience. The goal is to remove the brainless memorization of information and to actually provide students with understanding and reasoning of the knowledge they develop through exploration by the student.

Various stakeholders are involved in the project – the international team from 9 countries cooperating in the project, national and local authorities, teachers, students and parents, with the goal to provide a learning tool aimed not only at understanding, but preparing students for professional careers in science and math.

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There is a platform developed for teachers as well aimed at their professional development with 3 key objectives: to be sustainable over time, to be collaborative – meaning teachers working together from various schools, and developing subject knowledge as integral part of the process. In the platform, teachers can log-in a forum, focused on sharing ideas about teaching, problems, methodologies, etc, as well as a chat function for faster communication process.

I am also proud to know that the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, and in particular the Institute for Mathematics and Informatics is part of the project and is currently developing a Virtual mathematics laboratory under the guidance of Dr. Toni Chehlarova, embracing dynamic learning environments with methodological support.

Furthermore the Institute founded the High School Students Institute of Mathematics and Informatics , in which students from all over the country work on research projects and present them at a special conference for students.

In an interview with a Bulgarian newspaper, the leader of the Bulgarian team of MASCIL – academician Petar Kenderov talks about all of this, concluding that teachers will continue to have a central role in the educational process, but additional tools like MASCIL will assist them with providing the necessary special education and better tools for developing scientific inquiring mind in young pupils.

Check out the project here, it is truly amazing.