Waikato University trail opens 'maths eyes'

Damon Whitten demonstrates how to work out one of the tasks on the maths trail at Waikato University.
CHRISTEL YARDLEY/FAIRFAX NZ

Damon Whitten demonstrates how to work out one of the tasks on the maths trail at Waikato University.

It's maths, but not as you know it. 

Damon Whitten from the National Centre of Literacy and Numeracy for Adults says people needn't shudder at the thought of the new Maths Eyes trail, launching at Waikato University on Friday.

Its aim isn't to be a test, but to be an icebreaker into discussions about maths.

Designed by the Waikato Literacy and Numeracy Network, the trail is New Zealand's first. 

It is 1.6km long, free to use, and follows existing pathways on the Waikato University campus.

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"This was designed to allow people to think a little more freely about maths," Whitten said.

"The stigma around not being good at maths is such a barrier to success. This is designed to break that stigma, and make it more normalised."

Whitten admitted he wasn't good at maths as a kid, but fell in love with it as an adult. Now, he's working towards a PhD in Maths Education.

"I think what I really like, is seeing people relax around maths and find themselves a little bit in it.

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"I like seeing other people make that break-through moment, where they're having fun. Sometimes they forget themselves and just enjoy it."

This is what Whitten hopes the Maths Eyes trail will achieve. 

Sixteen signs in English and Te Reo Māori will display activities across different levels of ability, pointing out features in the landscape.

This will encourage trail walkers to notice and think about the mathematics in their environment and work out real-life maths problems.

Professor Diana Coben​ says the trail will serve as a platform for adults and children, teachers and students, and community groups on which to share their maths eyes.

"It will enable them to recognise and be intrigued by the mathematics all around them. Opening your maths eyes promotes the usefulness and beauty of mathematics.

"Everyone has maths eyes," she said. "They just need to be opened."

For more information on the Maths Eyes concept, visit: www.haveyougotmathseyes.com

The trail starts at the University of Waikato car park 2B, off Knighton Rd, and the opening ceremony, to be held at the trail start, is at 11am on Friday, May 26. All welcome.

 - Stuff

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