'Building Better Math' Improves Enrollment in STEM Courses

A newly founded partnership formed developed a program to encourage high school students to enroll in more math and science courses by providing them experiences through real world application.

Maplesoft and the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) created the "Building Better Math" educational tool, a database of problems embedded in Maplesoft's testing and assessment tool, Maple T.A., to help students practice math for a variety of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)-related industries.

BCIT says many high school students are avoiding math and choosing more interesting, well-paid technical careers, because they do not realize the significance of math in a wide range of fields. "High school students need math to succeed in so many sectors, and BCIT wants to keep them engaged in math in those critical years, giving them far more career pathway choices," says Paul Dangerfield, vice president of education, research and international at BCIT. "Students don't always understand how important math is to their future. If we can show them how the math from high school is actually used in a wide range of careers, they will be more likely to take the time to learn and practice."

Few real-world math problems currently exist in high school curriculum. For years, BCIT has worked to improve this issue as a post-secondary educational institution by aiming to bring excitement in mathematics to the high school classroom through its BBM project.

According to Maplesoft, Maple T.A. software will generate different questions for each student, every time they try an assignment. These types of assessments allow students to work together on problem-solving processes, while still allowing them to develop their own creative, individual thinking; grading is done automatically, without increasing a teacher's workload; and immediate feedback is given that offer successful strategy tips for improvement.

"New challenges in industry are creating an urgent need for talent in many technical domains," says Laurent Bernardin, executive vice president for Maplesoft. "The philosophy of our company is that given great tools, people can do great things. We believe this to be especially true of students, who can be driven to greater heights when guided in the right direction. We are pleased to partner with BCIT to help students find their way to exciting technical careers."

Sarah Cechowski is the associate digital editor for Control Design and Industrial Networking. Email her at scechowski@putman.net or check out her Google+ profile.