Scientists in Schools

A mathematician's world

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  • Jennifer Stacey, Distance Education Centre Victoria, Thornbury, VIC
  • Sergey Suslov, Swinburne University of Technology

Sergey's love of mathematics as a boy in Russia has lead to a career around the world. By collaborating with Jennifer to create the DVD, "A Day in the Life of a Mathematician", he shares his interest with students from the Distance Education Centre Victoria, giving them a new insight into mathematics.

With the delivery methods of distance education in mind, Jennifer and Sergey are developing a number of mathematics curriculum resources. Through these projects, students see the relevance of maths while being exposed to possible careers.

Serget and Jennifer

DVD screenshot

The initial project, a careers DVD illustrating the reality of working as a mathematician, dispels some common myths. Sergey reveals only a small amount of his time involves working with numbers and formulae; mostly he works with people such as engineers, physicists and local councils. In communicating with the wider community, Sergey enjoys explaining how things work so others can understand their problems from a logical, mathematical point of view.

The DVD opens the students' minds to maths opportunities, creating a better understanding of the link between secondary and tertiary maths. "Mathematics is a very vibrant and logical science – it is definitely not scary!" reassures Sergey.
Jennifer finds access to Sergey's expertise and the relevance of a practising mathematician extremely beneficial. "Students form connections between their studies and the outside world and maths becomes relevant to the students," she explains.
Jennifer revealed their next project links mathematical real life applications to concepts in the Year 12 Specialist Mathematics course. Despite time being a challenge, they agree the key to a successful partnership is to maintain regular contact and ensure the task is achievable in a reasonable time.