Our Philosophy

MathsCraft is not a set of problems. It is a way of going about engaging people with mathematical thought.

It encompasses a set of behaviours, and beliefs about what is useful to people trying to have ideas.

It’s about giving students the chance to have ideas for themselves, and to approach problems in a way that comes naturally to them. This means choosing problems – and their presentation – in a way that allows any student to have their own ideas about them, and to pursue those ideas to somewhere fruitful (at least some of the time).

It means letting the student choose the approach and tools they are comfortable with, and then challenging them to use those tools to build mathematical arguments that would convince the harshest critics.

MathsCraft problems are designed to ignite curiosity and encourage exploration – the starting point of any mathematical adventure.

See our key concepts

Doing Maths like a Research Mathematician

Research mathematics is the process of using currently known maths to study new areas of maths, invent new concepts and procedures, uncover new truths.

Research mathematicians learn and understand and remember many facts and procedures they may or may not find useful later. They do this to gain a set of tools they can do maths with.

Research mathematicians also wrangle problems that they don’t yet know how to solve. They try to find solutions, and become sure of those solutions, in a way that comes naturally to them – using the tools they are very familiar with. We want students to do the same.

So we have created a collaboration between teachers and research mathematicians, with the aim of building a program that gives students this experience.

Our Story

MathsCraft: Doing maths like a research mathematician is a concept originally developed by Anthony Harradine, a school mathematics teacher and the Director of the Potts-Baker Institute at Prince Alfred College in Adelaide, and statistician Dr Richard Jarrett.

Since its early beginnings around 2010, MathsCraft has taken teachers and students on mathematical adventures that show them what it’s like to do mathematics like a research mathematician – by solving problems in a way that mimics the approach mathematicians take to their own research.

In 2015, MathsCraft became an outreach partnership between Anthony and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Mathematical and Statistical Frontiers (ACEMS).

At first ACEMS funded and organized student focussed sessions, reaching approximately 80 schools across Australia. Then 2016 saw the program expand to begin training teachers as “MathsCraft session leaders”. The first 5-day immersive PD workshop was held in November, with 17 teachers and 9 mathematicians taking part. The immersive workshop then ran annually, receiving overwhelmingly positive feedback from the participants. To date 89 teachers have attended these immersive workshops.

In 2017, the newly trained session leaders ran student workshops hosted by their own schools, and MathsCraft began its program of full-day teacher PD workshops. In 2018 MathsCraft crossed the ditch to New Zealand, where a two-week program of student workshops, full-day teacher workshops, and an immersive 3-day workshop took place across the country.

In 2019, the new classroom-based MathsCraft Curriculum was trialled through a pilot program that involved 18 teachers (most of which were MathsCraft session leaders), in 11 schools reaching more than 300 students across Australia. This set of resources is designed to complement the Australian Curriculum by providing an opportunity for students to develop their mathematical thinking and behaviours.

The pandemic put a pause on activities in 2020, but the MathsCraft Curriculum was developed further, ready for its launch in 2021. In 2021-2, close to 100 teachers implemented the MathsCraft Curriculum across Australia and New Zealand.

The full-day PD workshops began taking place online in 2021, and there were even two online student workshops hosted by MATRIX which drew students together from across Australia.

At the same time, the South Australian Department for Education enlisted MathsCraft to begin running PD workshops for department teachers. Each program has taken place on three days spread across a semester.

The grant that funded ACEMS ended in December 2021, and MathsCraft is now being coordinated by MATRIX – Australia’s residential research institute for the mathematical sciences. This promises to put teachers in closer contact with research mathematicians.

Exciting plans are in the works for the further expansion of MathsCraft PD offerings in 2023 and beyond. To hear more, don’t forget to join our mailing list!

Our people are passionate and dedicated professionals committed to connecting teachers and mathematicians together to further enhance the teacher and student experience in the classroom with the joy of mathematics.

Anthony Harradine

Anthony Harradine began teaching mathematics in 1984. Currently Director of the Potts–Baker Institute at Prince Alfred College, he has spent the last fifteen years trying to better understand his failures of the previous twenty-one. His many mentors have taught him lots about mathematics and statistics, problem solving, and research. He likes nothing better than sharing ideas with anyone silly enough to listen. He really likes mathematics.

In the recent past his professional time has been filled with a variety of tasks that include: facilitator of problem-solving workshops, mathematical-person in residence, leader of a unique STEM project (eduKart), Advisory Board Member (The University of Adelaide, Faculty of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences), Prime Ministerial working group member (Transforming Learning and the Transmission of Knowledge), consultant, web application developer, curriculum writer and teacher.

Anita Ponsaing

Dr Anita Ponsaing is a mathematician, and worked as ACEMS Outreach Officer and MathsCraft Coordinator. After completing her PhD in mathematical physics in 2011, she spent three years in research positions in Europe before returning to Australia.

She loves helping others to see the beauty in maths, and is fascinated by the way people interact with mathematical questions: particularly the role that intuition plays and how it can be developed. In 2015 she attended her first MathsCraft session, and since then has become the program’s in-house mathematician.

She is currently completing a Master of Teaching.

Nigel Bean

Professor Nigel Bean is an internationally known researcher in stochastic modelling. He was Deputy Head of the School of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Adelaide for many years, and is now working in the private sector.

Nigel is a past member of the AMSI Board and was a member of the Mathematics Advisory Panel for the Australian Curriculum in 2011 and 2012. Nigel is an Ambassador for ‘Numerical Acumen’ and is incredibly passionate about the MathsCraft program.

Our MathsCraft Ambassadors are professional maths teachers and research mathematicians that have attended, supported, and engaged with a variety of MathsCraft activities and events since 2015.

MathsCraft engages your students with doing mathematics in a way that will capture their interest and challenge their thinking.

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