University of Tasmania

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Calculus for kids: Engaging primary school students in engineering mathematics

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-23, 10:39 authored by Nitschke, S, Christopher ChinChristopher Chin, Fluck, A, Irene PenesisIrene Penesis, Susantha RanmuthugalaSusantha Ranmuthugala, Ghous, A, Choon ChongChoon Chong
BACKGROUND OR CONTEXT The 'Calculus for Kids' program is a research project conducted through the University of Tasmania and Australian Maritime College. The project was created to provide primary school students with an application based understanding of engineering mathematics, through ICT, and ultimately encourage students into the field of engineering. PURPOSE OR GOAL The aim of the project is to teach year 6 primary school students the concept of integral calculus, through the use of real-world engineering problems and the mathematics software; MAPLE. This paper explains the 'Calculus for Kids' program and demonstrates how it combines real-world problem solving and ICT to engage students in complex engineering mathematics. In addition, the paper will explore the application of the program that one school adopted and the observations that were made throughout the program. APPROACH Fluck et. al (2014) outline that the 'Calculus for Kids' program consists of four stages; produce and modify material, teacher training, implementation of the program into schools and assessment of the results. The approach within the classroom differs only slightly with the omission of producing the materials and a focus on how the program will be implemented into that particular school. St. Therese Primary School Torquay became involved in this program in 2014 as a means to further challenge students in mathematics. The school's involvement commenced with a teacher being trained to conduct the program. Since the initial training the school has run the program twice and is currently in the middle stages of its third program. DISCUSSION The results of the project thus far have demonstrated that "…very young students could achieve at much higher levels when using computer technology"(Fluck, Chin, Ranmuthugala & Penesis, 2014, p.1). The overall benefit of the program in the school community has seen an increasing confidence in student's own mathematical abilities. Additionally, students have been observed to place an importance on challenging themselves to understand complex mathematical concepts. The only complaint received from parents was that of "why is my child not involved in this program?" Due to the success of the initial program, we have this year provided it as an option to all Year 5 and 6 students. By choice, the students sign up to the program and we have a cohort of 25 students for the current program and another 25 students for the subsequent program that will initiate in Term 3. RECOMMENDATIONS/IMPLICATIONS/CONCLUSION Due to the nature of schools there were a number of implications to conducting such a program in the classroom. As a school it was decided to run this as an extra program, not in mathematics sessions, therefore it had to be scheduled in elsewhere. In addition, there is only one teacher trained in the program and it has been observed as important that this teacher have a strong mathematical background. However, these challenges were overcome, and it became clear that student outcomes and mathematical self-efficacy available from the program were worthwhile.


Australian Research Council


Publication title

Proceedings of the 26th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education - AAEE2015


A Oo, A Patel, T Hilditch and S Chandran






Australian Maritime College


School of Engineering, Deakin University

Place of publication

Victoria, Australia

Event title

26th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education – AAEE2015

Event Venue

Geelong, Australia

Date of Event (Start Date)


Date of Event (End Date)


Rights statement

Copyright unknown

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Teaching and instruction technologies

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