A NeuroMat Statistics and Neuroscience course to contribute to public school teaching

FAPESP's Research, Innovation and Dissemination Center for Neuromathematics (CEPID NeuroMat) has developed a series of activities and material to contribute to how public school teachers engage with Statistics and Neuroscience. The aim is to partner up and work along with teachers in a systematic effort to present concepts pertaining to Neuromathematics to teenagers. A special focus in this effort is given to introducing students to data setting and analysis.

Lisbeth Cordani presentation at Emef Desembardar Amorim Lima about the course on Statistics and Neuroscience

Two professors and researchers are the main coordinators of this initiative at NeuroMat: Lisbeth Cordani, from Mathematics and Statistics Institute, and André Frazão, from Biology Institute, both at São Paulo University [Universidade de São Paulo (USP)]. Cordani brings her long term experience on teacher formation on Statistics, and Frazão shows new educational resources to increase Neuroscience interest among teenager students.

The first practical activity will occur during March or April, in a date yet to be defined, at Escola Municipal de Ensino Fundamental (Emef) Desembargador Amorim Lima, located at USP neighborhood. At Amorim Lima, teachers from various areas, who work from elementary to middle school, will be NeuroMat partners in the first formation on Statistics and Neuroscience. NeuroMat and the school team set the terms of the partnership during December 2014 and February 2015, in order to reach the best format and content for both institutions and their professionals.

Previous works

Cordani developed a project named “Statistics for All”, funded by FAPESP, during 2005 and 2006, that consisted on forming and supporting teachers on basic statistics applied to middle and high school. In the beginning of the project, teachers participated on a course, similar to the one that is going to occur in the next months with NeuroMat. After the formation, teachers had some examples of activities to work in the classroom, and were supported by Cordani during the process, when doubts appeared.

The series of activities were based on a United Kingdom project called Census at School, created by the Royal Statistical Society, which had forms specifically for children to learn how to collect data, check information and deal with presentation challenges.

“Teachers from middle and high schools are getting more interested in learning Statistics and Probability”, says Cordani. “Statistics remounts to early periods of times, when it was used to register data. Nowadays, its main use is to contribute to the knowledge advance. In different areas, it gets more and more important to know how to deal with variability and uncertainty from data, as they are tools to decision making.”

Cordani explains that, historically, Statistics and Probability stood far from the school benches. In fact, the development of these areas occurred mostly by self-taught researchers and, after, in the universities. Now, the movement is to present the content to students in all series and levels, in order to change the scenario.

Videos and presentations

As CEPID NeuroMat project points, education and teacher support is an important area for scientific dissemination. So, in order to amplify audience, the efforts to create materials and courses will be consolidated in videos, that can, potentially, be used everywhere in Brazil, without costs – except from a connection to the web.

According to professor Antonio Carlos Roque, from the Department of Physics of the School of Philosophy, Sciences and Letters at USP in Ribeirão Preto, and a NeuroMat member, "scientists involved in a project like NeuroMat should make an active effort to find ways to convey their knowledge and findings in an accessible way”. And that is the challenge. The results of all this work will be the object of public presentations at scientific meetings on education, mathematics and neuroscience.

This piece is part of NeuroMat's Newsletter #13. Read more here

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