As it celebrates five years of success today in Melbourne, the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI) warns sustained funding is critical to achieving long-term impact through its national Choose Maths project.
Supported by the BHP Foundation, AMSI’s Choose Maths project has transformed mathematics learning and its potential as a door opener for over 58,000 students nationally in just five years.
Logan Student Gina Rambold-Dent from Queensland’s Mabel Park State High School is just one of the many to share in the benefits of the Project. Currently in Year 11, she is in Melbourne to share her story and receive a surprise $5000 Choose Maths scholarship to support her university studies at a celebratory luncheon at BHP today. Unaware of her scholarship, she will add her voice to calls for continued support for the project.
Gina, who has been involved with AMSI Choose Maths since its beginnings in 2015, credits the Project and Mabel Park State High School’s Head of Maths and Science, Stacey King, for building her confidence in mathematics and current participation in advanced studies.
“Choose Maths has inspired me to strive regardless of disadvantage in my life. As a young woman, the Project has empowered me to pursue a STEM career. Something I didn’t think was possible, as no-one in my family has done this before,” she says.
Through the Project and the support of the AMSI Schools Outreach team, Mabel Park State High School has implemented a range of exciting initiatives, including Girls Excelling in Maths and Science (GEMS), and participated in careers events. Stacey King was also one of two top AMSI Choose Maths Teacher Award winners in 2016. Recognition that has, according to Gina, opened many doors for students with the school’s positive profile also drawling an influx of new teacher talent.
Gina is one of many students singing the Project’s praises including those who have been inspired through its national Mentor Network. It has seen Women in STEM, such as University of New South Wales’s Michaela Hall, matched to mentor groups of Years 9 and 10 students and inspire a new generation of talent. A powerful repository of wisdom as well as study and career advice for participating students, many have opted to pursue high level mathematics in Years 11 and 12.
Originally from Repton NSW, Michaela says she is living proof that absolutely anyone can do maths. The applied mathematician says the network benefits mentors as much as the mentees, providing a platform to set and strive towards courageous goals.
“As a woman in STEM, it can be easy to feel isolated or alone in my endeavours, but the mentoring network and working with these students has helped me see my place in the broader community of STEMMinists” she says.
AMSI Director Professor Tim Brown says there are many such examples of the Project’s impacts on lives and school communities. Having pioneered many of the strategies now being explored as part of national policy development to secure Australia’s STEM future, he says it is an Australian success story with many chapters still to write.
“With the support of the BHP Foundation, AMSI’s Choose Maths project has already delivered significant impact with inspiring results. However, we’re only just starting this journey and to secure Australia’s future and support future innovation we need to see this through. We can’t afford to drop the ball on this now,” says Professor Brown.
In addition to components such as a national careers awareness campaign, the implementation of a mentoring network for girls and women in mathematics and the Choose Maths Awards, AMSI Schools Program Manager and Choose Maths Project Director Janine Sprakel says a big part of the Project’s success has been in its delivery of teacher outreach.
“We’ve worked with over 3000 teachers to deliver some 7000 hours training with outstanding results. Thousands of students, have been impacted by this transfer of expertise and knowledge, including a plethora of digital resources, tools and classroom materials,” she says.
BHP Foundation Chair, Chip Goodyear, says the Project is a powerful example of the Foundation’s success in partnering to deliver real and lasting national impact in and beyond the classroom.
“The evidence demonstrates that participating in AMSI’s Choose Maths project transforms mathematical engagement, confidence and perception of the next generation of mathematical thinkers, particularly girls and women. Sustaining this work will support the building of Australia’s STEM workforce and the future of Australian industry.”
About the Choose Maths Scholarship
Providing financial support for entry into tertiary studies, this $5000 scholarship recognises the excellence and achievement of students who have had high engagement with the AMSI Choose Maths project and demonstrated extraordinary benefit from their participation.
AMSI Choose Maths has had contact with tens of thousands of students. Some of them have stood out because of the way the Project has changed their lives. For many AMSI Choose Maths has opened opportunities they could not have previously dreamed about. Amongst these students, Gina stands out both in terms of her exceptional achievement and the way she has seized every opportunity the project has offered. She has done this despite exceptional disadvantage that would have deterred most students.
Named 2018 QLD Girl Power STEM Ambassador and 2019 UQ Science Ambassador, 16-year-old Mabel Park State High School student Gina Rambold-Dent is more than an inspiration. She hopes to study medicine or lead research to cure cancer. However, she hasn’t always dared to dream this big, having survived more than her fair share of adversity. She is currently the recipient of an ABCN Scholarship to support her senior studies – funding for severely disadvantaged students that helps ensure they have school uniforms, books and essentials to allow them to attend school.
Over the past five years, AMSI has been has been working with students, parents and teachers to challenge community attitudes to mathematics and the particiaption of girls and women through the Choose Maths project.
The project has led the national implementation of key classroom and pipeline strategies to transform Australia’s mathematical capability. This has included teacher professional development and training, a national careers awareness campaign, the Choose Maths Awards for teachers and students, and the Women in Maths Network.
AMSI is the collaborative enterprise of Australia’s mathematical sciences. Established as an independent platform and advocate for the discipline, the Institute has built a record of national and international achievement as the recognised leader in delivery of services, activities and strategic initiatives across the mathematical pipeline.
Working with key discipline, government and industry partners, AMSI delivers its mission through through the delivery of activities and engagement under its Schools, Research, Higher Education and APR.Intern Programs.
Professor Tim Brown, AMSI Director
Janine Sprakel, AMSI Schools Program Manager and Choose Maths Project Director
Gina Rambold-Dent, Choose Maths student, Mabel Park State High School
Michaela Hall, Choose Maths Mentor, University of New South Wales
Media Contact: Laura Watson
P: 04215 18733