Ricochet News

Bay maths conference celebrates maths-art winners

By Nicky Willemse - May 28, 2018
Bay maths conference celebrates maths-art winners

It was a clean sweep for KwaMagxaki High School this weekend, with two of its pupils taking the top spots in the Eastern Cape’s first Math-Art competition – where entrants had to create art pieces inspired by maths.

The prizegiving for the Math-Art competition – which was run by Nelson Mandela University’s Govan Mbeki Mathematics Development Centre (GMMDC) – was one of the highlights of the Centre’s fifth annual GeoGebra Conference for teachers and TVET college lecturers, with this year’s theme being “GeoGebra for STEAM education: Linking maths and arts for beauty in design”.

GMMDC hosts one of 187 global institutes for GeoGebra, which is free, open-source maths software used in maths and science classrooms across the globe, while STEAM – the acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics – follows an international education trend where science, technology and the arts are promoted through maths. The weekend conference on May 25 and 26 included several talks along with practical sessions, where teachers learnt how to include GeoGebra in their classrooms.  

The link between maths and the arts – found in nature, fashion, architecture, Islamic and African art – was also the driving force behind GMMDC’s Math-Art competition, which drew 113 entries from 36 schools. These are on display in Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Gallery until June 8.  

KwaMagxaki High’s Masixole Mangwana won the Grade 8 to 9 category with his drawing “Sacred Aloe”, depicting an abstract aloe plant created from geometrical shapes, which symbolised the relationship of the Eastern Cape people with the aloe plant for medicine and other uses. His school-mate Mzukisi Nthilsila won the Grade 10 to 12 category, with his drawing “Six Point Stars”, an abstract artwork of overlapping triangles, resulting in two six-point stars.

The other winners in the Grade 8 to 9 category were Zaafirah Kerdemay and Fatima-Zahra Hoosain, both from Nasruddin Islamic High in Port Elizabeth, and Zukhanye Hlaleleni from Get Ahead College in Queenstown. In the senior category, winners included East London’s Mia Brettell from Grens High and Shanay Archery from Beaconhurst High, and Port Elizabeth’s Mandilakhe Khonza from Urban Academy. Prizes included art hampers and tablets.

“Our pilot competition was a tremendous success, showing great potential to expose learners to STEAM education,” said GMMDC director Prof Werner Olivier.

“There is so much more to maths than pupils may think.”

Special guests at the prizegiving and two-day conference were some of Europe’s leading researchers in STEAM education, including Finland’s Kristof Fenyvesi, a STEAM researcher at the University of Jyvaskyla and the vice-president of the world’s largest mathematics, arts and education community, called the Bridges Organisation. From Hungary, there was Gyorgy Tury, Dean of the Faculty of Communication and Arts at Budapest Metropolitan University and Gabriella Uhl, art historian, curator and associate professor at the same university.

On May 23, as a pre-conference activity, Fenyvesi, in partnership with the GMMDC, ran an “Experience Workshop” for 100 pupils and 30 teachers from eight schools in Duncan Village, East London, where participants were given a practical taste of how art and maths connect, as they built soccer balls, geometric shapes and molecules using GeoGebra to understand the structures.

“The Experience Workshop gave pupils the opportunity to learn mathematics through art, and to do art through mathematics,” said Olivier.

The GeoGebra conference ties in with the GMMDC’s high-tech approach to maths and science. The Centre has developed a curriculum-aligned teaching and learning model for high school pupils and teachers, which is available on tablet, laptop or desktop computer, and includes video lessons, animated PowerPoint presentations, self-tests and many other resources, including GeoGebra.





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