Renowned mathematics teacher and ambassador for the ongoing Sydney Science Festival Eddie Woo takes an interview with Xinhua at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, Australia, Aug. 14, 2019. Technology can be a hugely important amplifier outside classroom and immensely powerful in all spheres of education, Eddie Woo told Xinhua at the Sydney Science Festival on Wednesday. TO GO WITH “Interview: New technology changing children’s maths learning: expert” (Xinhua/Hao Yalin)
by Levi J Parsons
SYDNEY, Aug. 15 (Xinhua) — Technology can be a hugely important amplifier outside of classroom and immensely powerful in all spheres of education, renowned mathematics teacher Eddie Woo told Xinhua at the Sydney Science Festival.
An ambassador for the two-week-long event, the 34-year-old Australian educator has gained global notoriety through his YouTube channel, where he gives free lessons to millions of children across the world.
“I’ve been putting videos online of my classroom for about seven years now,” Woo said.
“And over that time, videos on my channel have been watched for so long that if you were trying to get a human teacher to teach the amount of hours that my videos have been watched, it would take me more than 3,000 years of standing in front of a classroom.”
“(Although technology) doesn’t replace a great teacher… it can help us teachers do the job better and get learning out to more and more people.”
While mathematics is a discipline that many people find difficult and often boring, Woo said there are ways that teachers can make things more exciting.
“Most people would not think of mathematics as something you do together,” he explained.
“It’s sort of very individual. You do a test, you do it alone, and you don’t work with others.”
“But the thing is real mathematicians who are trying to solve actual applied problems in the real world, they constantly have to interact with people in other disciplines and people within their own.”
That’s why Woo designs classroom maths problems that are relevant and connected to real-life events.
“I think one of the most important things is to show children the connections between mathematics and science, and their everyday lives,” he said.
“For instance, rather than just saying ‘everyone, we’re going to be learning about this algorithm for going through this network diagram’ or something like that, what I’ll say is, ‘guys, we want to understand how the H1N1 influenza virus spread throughout the world, and also how we stopped it.’”
“The Center for Disease Control did a huge amount of work and this was mathematically modelled… so I want to start on the ground floor with the context that gives me a need.”
Hoping to inspire a new generation of children to explore maths and science, the beloved and award-winning educator said, “Mathematics is really about sensing patterns and relationships, and connections in the world around us.”
“Every day, we are forced into situations where the next step you should take is unclear.”
“If we have a mathematical sense and a mathematical thought process… we’re much better equipped to make good decisions rather than poor ones,” Woo added.
The Sydney Science Festival which features over 200 different events, will conclude on August 18.
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