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Feature: St Mary’s Graduate Shortlisted for Rolls-Royce Science Prize

St Mary’s University alumna Jacobijn Scorer has seen her project shortlisted for the annual Rolls-Royce Science Prize.

St Mary’s University alumna Jacobijn Scorer has seen her project shortlisted for the Rolls-Royce Science Prize, an annual awards programme that helps teachers implement science teaching ideas in their schools and colleges. Jacobijn, who studied for a PGCE qualification at St Mary’s and graduated in 2012, is the Project Manager for Maths Moves Science, a project that focuses on connecting maths with dance and has been shortlisted for the final nine from over 2000 entries. We caught up with her to find out more about the project and her time at St Mary’s. How did you find the PGCE course? It was fantastic! The subject specialist lessons were really good, as well as the practical lessons on teaching, how students receive information and behavioural management. Sometimes we had practitioners and teachers in our subject specific sessions and that was really helpful as you could hear from people who are already in the industry to get practical examples. Why did you study for a PGCE? I had a commercial background and it was always in the back of my mind that I wanted to be a teacher. As I’m Dutch I thought that my English would not be strong enough to be a teacher, but maths is such a universal subject and I had lots of support from the people around me so I decided to go for it. Why did you choose St Mary’s? I came to an Open Evening hosted by Bob Vertes [Former Senior Lecturer in Education] and he did such a brilliant job at convincing me that St Mary’s was the best! What advice would you give to new students studying for a PGCE? Embrace it all, especially when on work placements in schools, which can be quite challenging. I think every teacher has difficulties with behavioural management in the beginning, but you will overcome it in time. You just have to remember that having your own class is very different from being a PGCE student at university. I would also advise to start early with all written work as otherwise it will get in the way. Lastly, it’s very important to network and have fun! How has life been since graduating? It’s been fantastic! I’m teaching at the BRIT School for the Performing Arts and Technology. I’m a very creative person and I’ve always loved connecting maths with creative learning, but not every school is open to that. Can you tell us about Rolls-Royce Science Prize? I was at the ATM Conference, which every maths teacher should attend as it’s the best conference in the world, as there are many practical examples of creative learning that you can discover. While I was at the conference I visited a stand by Rolls-Royce about the Science Prize, which I found out is being run for the tenth year to promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) learning, although this is the first time it has been opened up to maths teachers. The prize is for the most creative teaching idea, and there are about 2000 schools who apply every year. We [The BRIT School] were part of the 60 that got selected and won £1000. During the next stage we had to submit an in-depth proposal on how we were going to implement the project, what budget we needed, what teachers were involved and how we were going to assess the whole project. Following this we were selected as part of the final nine entrants and in the process won a further £5000. The £6000 we have won so far will be spent on executing the project over the next academic year. If we are chosen as the winners we will receive a further £10,000. We’re capturing everything on camera as this will be presented as a 20 minute film to Rolls Royce, who will then choose the winner in November 2015. How did you go about connecting Maths with dance initially? I’ve always had this dream in my head of doing an equation dance, because some students find algebra really difficult. I felt that visualising an equation would help them to understand the algebra process: if you take things away from the left hand side, you need to take the same amount away from the right hand side. This is a concept that you can visualise easily with human bodies so it works really well. How’s it going so far? We are in the middle of our first project and have just completed an assessment lesson with our students. From the assessment we could see that many of the students, who are between 17 and 19, could not really remember much about the concepts they studied for their maths GCSE such as transformation, translation, reflection and enlargement. To help refresh their memories the project focussed on ‘people maths’, which is where you envisage and embody different concepts. We had the students sitting in coordinated grids so they could get a feel for how space was divided and when we did rotations we found different points where the students had to move themselves around in 90 degrees clockwise and anti-clockwise. This made the students realise how they could choreograph and notate their own dances. The project required a lot of thinking and helped students develop a deeper understanding of the concepts before they could begin learning to choreograph the routines for each other. What do you have planned next? The next project will be with 16 year olds and focus on maths equations which we are dubbing ‘the algebra dance’. This project will be with students from different strands [vocations subjects] who have not yet received a GCSE in Maths at grade C or above. The project will help them acquire additional skills for certificates other than GCSEs which will help boost their CVs. The third project will explore geometrical shapes of human movements which will be connected to science, for instance the moving of particles, resistance and forces. To find out more about the project click here. If you are considering studying for a PGCE qualification at St Mary’s have a look what’s available on the website.

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