An overview of mathematical literacy in Brazil: an interview with PISA analyst Esther Carvalhaes

PISA analyst Esther Carvalhaes during her talk at the
University of São Paulo,
in May (Credit: RIDC NeuroMat)

The 2015 OECD’s PISA result “tells us that most students in Brazil, after spending many years in compulsory education, are unable to make use of mathematics concepts and procedures to perform even basic operations and solve very simple problems.” PISA stands for Program for International Student Assessment, a study to assess the performance of 15-year-old students in various countries on three academic areas: reading, mathematics and science. The recently published 2015 assessment has indicated that Brazil “was well below the average performance of students in the developed world in all three areas tested.”

New fronts in the effort of disseminating science

The RIDC NeuroMat currently hosts five projects to disseminate science, funded by FAPESP. These projects focus on many aspects of how to develop a media strategy for improving science communication: collaborative technologies, transmedia, interactions between specialists and interested audiences, training of science journalists.

NeuroMat initiative to address research and education on brachial plexus injuries

The Research, Innovation and Dissemination Center for Neuromathematics (RIDC NeuroMat) will soon launch a multidisciplinary initiative focusing on brachial plexus injuries, called the NeuroMat Action for the Brachial Plexus Injury, or ABRAÇO. This initiative will become a go-to reference for patients, patients’ relatives, health professionals, researchers and educators who are interested in this kind of injury, that has been in the rise in Brazil, especially associated to an increasing number of motorcycle riders and accidents. Leading figures in this initiative are the NeuroMat scientific director, Antonio Galves, and NeuroMat PI, Claudia Domingues Vargas.

Advancing scientific culture through Wikimedia projects

Levels of scientific culture are associated to a mass of social phenomena, according to the literature, ranging from economic measures (i.e., innovation rates, development) to sociopolitical indicators, such as political participation and inequality. Not surprisingly, a country’s level of scientific culture, for instance as measured by the 2015 PISA assessment, is strongly associated to this country’s level of science education and normally quality of educational resources produced in this country. From one direction, this means that the lower the level of scientific culture in a country the lower the quality of educational books, magazines, websites and so on that will be produced or available in this country. A recent study has indicated that a country's level of scientific culture is also associated to the quality of contributions from this country to the electronic encyclopedia Wikipedia.

A NeuroMat project group to simulate cortical networks using stochastic models

During the last NeuroMat workshop, PI Antonio Carlos Roque presented a project on simulating neuronal behaviors associated to the Galves-Löcherbach model. Computational simulation could provide insights on brain dynamics, especially if the simulated models have very large sizes. Postdoctoral researcher Nilton Kamiji and PhD students Rodrigo Pena and César Ceballos are part of this project; Kamiji also presented on neuronal modeling at the NeuroMat workshop.

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