Mathematics, Grok, and Science Week

Yasmin Clarke
Sep 24, 2019 · 2 min read

Guest post by Donna Buckley — Assistant Head of Mathematics, John Curtin College of the Arts.

Since 2017, mathematics teachers at John Curtin College of the Arts have been using Grok to integrate Digital Technologies across their mathematics curriculum. Grok introduces students to the power of using a computing language such as Python for problem solving.

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“I like Grok because it is a good way for students to learn to program and it was fun to see how programming works”, Beth King, Year 7 at John Curtin College of the Arts

In mathematics the problem solving process can be thought of as having four stages:

  • Playing with and visualising a problem, trying simpler cases.
  • Working on the problem, reasoning logically and looking for a pattern.
  • Digging deeper by generalising the pattern, verifying and proving.
  • Communicating findings and evaluating.

As a participating school in the West Australian Schools Curriculum and Assessment Authority (SCSA) Year 6 & 7 moderation task for 2019, it was essential that the college planned and sequenced our teaching and learning to cover the curriculum content for the Year 7 moderation task. Being able to think like a robot (or turtle) was a key element of this prior learning and the Grok platform allowed the teachers to introduce this concept with ease.

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Python Turtle provides the ideal platform for students to simultaneously develop their geometric reasoning alongside their algorithmic thinking. With the 2019 Science Week Theme: Destination Moon, staff decided to cover the curriculum content by using the Satellite DT Mini Challenge.

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Students were highly engaged throughout the task and being able to access the platform from an iPad added to the usability not available if using Python Idle. Students were keen to continue the task and quite a buzz was felt around the classrooms from students and teachers as they participated in the task.

As the knowledge base grows amongst staff and students it allows Python to be used as a tool for developing mathematical problem solving.

The Satellite DT Mini Challenge can be completed in Python (text programming) or Blockly (visual programming).

A big thank you to Donna for contributing to the Grok Learning blog! 🎉

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