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Relevant initiatives

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Title of Initiative / Project
Name of Organiser
Politecnico di Torino
Start and ending date of the Initiative
Was the initiative carried out in the framework of a funded project?
Type of deliverables
Online course, Teaching Methodology, Video, On-line Game, Didactical resource
Thematic area
Maths, ICT
Language of the deliverable
Target Group
Teachers, Students
Description of the initiative
The Polymath project aims to provide the meeting place for a new Mathematics for the schools. It aims to foster the attractiveness of Mathematics for students and public opinion in general. The project addresses whoever is keen in deepening his / her culture on the subject and firstly to high school teachers and students. The cooperation of the latters is fundamental for the necessary renovation of mathematic courses that are obsolete by now and 19th century dated.
The new ICT tools are changing radically our society and the school are looking for new methods and paths.
Mathematics can be the cornerstone of the current “digital revolution”, provided that it manage to renew its own structures and to find a more direct and modern link with the students and the society.
The Polymath project aims to offer cause for reflection and debate, in addition to materials to be used in class, problems, games, lessons, as well as updating, information and proposals for new paths and results.
By this way, the project wants to highlight which level in Mathematics is required to enter the Politecnico of Turin.
In conclusion, the online nature of the project allows to spread the initiative beyond whatever territorial border linking it to other already existing national or foreign experiences.
More Information
The resource’s quality that is available on the portal is guaranteed by the Polytechnic institute of Turin that provides the domain.
It had to be pointed out some of the material that Polymath makes available: challenges games and riddles (like e.g., historical retrospectives (like the one about Fra’ Giovanni from Verona, didactical notes (e.g. Pythagorean triad or interdisciplinary paths (like the path between mathematics and art More contents by Polymath are available and the inquiring user can discovered it for free. The presence of contents in English allows the double exercise: basic and linguistic.
Teachers’ Opinion
I think the project website is complete and well-structured. There are many proposed activities as follows: problems, games, mathematical curiosities that may be surprising for students, themed lessons, interdisciplinary research, proposed by high school and university teachers. It‘s also proposed a monthly challenge combined with a sweepstakes. Some activities can play an action of recovery and consolidation of the contents offered by teachers in the classroom (see the section Notes for a Lesson). Other activities may instead strengthen the preparation of the students and stimulate their curiosity about topics that are not usually addressed at school and that may open fascinating and unimaginable scenarios of a modern, attractive and funny mathematics (see the section Problems and Solutions, GiocoMath, Mathematics and...., ).
I would like also to emphasize the presence, within the website, of a part named Reflections, divided in sections and articles, written by famous mathematicians who offer to the website user their great experience on the subject.
Moreover, I found really fascinating the section of the website dedicated to the Rogolone, the most beautiful and important ancient tree in Italy. It’s an impressive oak, 800 years old, thirty meters high and with a circumference of eight meters, located in an upland area surrounded by forests, in Val Menaggio (between Como and Lugano Lakes), and it’s the official logo of Polymath Project.
Federico Peiretti, expert in recreational mathematics, poetically compares math to this centuries-old tree. " Its branches touch the sky and its roots penetrate deeply into the earth, as Mathematics lives between reality and imagination. And as the tree plunges its roots in the meadow to find lifeblood so the math has to find new life and recover its roots, in order to renew and build a new relationship with the student and society ".
About the weaknesses of the project, I think that all the proposed activities require a knowledge of at least the elementary level of the covered topics. The difficulty level of some activities is too high and this greatly limits the applicability and the potential portability of the project in a classroom, especially in a Technical or Professional Institute.
I also noticed that some sections of the website are out of date; the latest updates go back to 2012. I think it should be updated, not only in content, but also in the graphic and aesthetic appearance to involve more students.
Students’ Opinion
“I think the website is very interesting as it gives us the opportunity to learn math in a different way as tipically done in classroom at school, particularly less annoying using games, problems and insights. This website is also very helpful in keeping the mind trained in logical reasoning, which is not easy to do using a book with difficult formulas, but it is much easier to do with games and riddles.”

“I like Polymath website very much; I consider it a very comprehensive website as it contains problems, lessons, games, articles, videos, research and various material regarding math and that allow to learn it better. The activity that has drawn more my attention was the one about the games.”

“The charm of this website consists of the abundance of information given and of the quotes appearing in each page that make you think about the real meaning of a subject loved by so few people.”

“I think that in my daily life this project should be very useful to study and better understand certain topics. I think they are also very useful the term papers that are on the website especially for next year, when I’ll be in the fifth class and I will have to do the final exams.”

“Website look is not up-to-date; for this reason I think that Polymath project, although useful, may be a bit boring for some students and therefore not succesfully transferable to school."

“Personally I would prefer a more colourful and engaging website; for example with online games and easier lessons including video.”

“I think the website should be less formal and more cheerful to try to make mathematics less “cold” and unpleasant, as written in the presentation of the project.”

“The website is too formal and difficult to understand for students.”

Comments on this Relevant initiatives

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Date: 2015.03.28

Posted by Anna Luise (Italy)

This initiativeis quite interesting as it pull alongside classical arguments with Maths rarities and it enrich them with a wide range of logical riddles and games of any sort and level that may help students.
I’d rather propose tests or group games to my students than using a classical frontal teaching method, with the purpose to teach them not to give up in front of the hardest Maths issues. After that, to conclude, I’d suggest them to go on the website and explore on their own.


Dissemination Seminar in Florence

31 October 2015 The seminar has been held in ITIS “A. Meucci” one of the schools involved within Goerudio project activities. Its main aim was to promote the results of the project toward a broad sample of stakeholders even overcrossing the number of people directly involved in the production of project outcomes. This purpose has been totally achieved especially thanks to the participation of students and teachers coming from different schools or from other classes instead of those ones directly involved within the project activities.