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Pitching maths through music at Emerald

28th November 2014

Students at Emerald State High School could be more tuned int o their maths classes next week than students anywhere else on earth.

A partnership between QUT and Join Australian Music (JAM) will see Year Nine maths students not only playing music but making instruments as well while learning about the maths behind the music.

Professor Tom Cooper along with guitarist and research assistant Alexander Stuetz from QUT's YuMi Deadly Centre, Faculty of Education, said by making a ukulele students will learn maths principles in relation to area, volume and ratio while in experimenting with string length they will learn about frequency and pitch.

"By combining maths with music, QUT and JAM can offer JAMATHS, a uniquely engaging way of teaching maths through music," Mr Stuetz said.

Mr Stuetz said JAMATHS was based on the successful maths program developed by QUT's YuMi Deadly Centre which introduces hands-on activities into maths classes to enable students to see how maths is relevant in a practical sense in the world around them.

"Whereas in other YuMi Deadly maths classes we might have students build toy trucks to understand shapes and sizes or dissect an orange to learn quarters and halves, with JAMATHS it's all about the music and the underlying maths principles that make music work," he said.

"Maths and music are a natural combination.

"Music is made up of melody and rhythm patterns and by playing around with beats, students learn to understand and identify patterns. The ability to identify patterns is important for solving maths problems, so we are teaching advanced maths skills through the music.

"We hold electronic drum and bass workshops to look at patterns, timing as well as note values as fractions in particular."

Mr Stuetz said workshops would run over three days and introductory and follow-up maths music classroom lessons were built around the workshops over a three-week period.

He said students would be tested both prior to and following the program to gauge the level of increase in their maths skills.

He said JAMATHS formed after QUT researchers and JAM musicians were at Woorabinda at the same time teaching their respective disciplines.

"We could see how engaged the students were with the music and knew that music would open up a whole new avenue of opportunity for teaching maths.

"The program has been piloted in schools in Brisbane but this is the first time we've taken the program to regional Queensland."

The Emerald State High School program is funded by Rio Tinto through the Kestrel Aboriginal Community Development Fund.

Media contact: Rose Trapnell, QUT media team leader, 07 3138 2361 or 0407 585 901 rose.trapnell@qut.edu.au

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