Simon Roy (l) and Veselin Jungic looking at illustrationsSimon Roy (l) and Veselin Jungic review the illustrations for Small Number.


Small Number, big goal

September 04, 2013

SFU’s Math Catcher program—Mathematics Through Aboriginal Storytelling—has just released the fifth video in an animated series.

Small Number and the Salmon Harvest is the latest tale about five-year-old Small Number, whose adventures help Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students understand that math is all around them—in shapes, patterns, measurements and abstract thinking.

The Math Catcher project, developed and run through SFU’s IRMACS Centre, has created a number of math tools and activities that follow the Aboriginal storytelling format and contain elements of Aboriginal traditions and cultures.

Over the past two years, SFU senior math lecturer Veselin Jungic has visited 46 schools throughout BC to show the videos and share his excitement for math with more than 1,700 young students.

“The community needs programs that promote mathematics and scholarship,” he says. “There is nothing similar out there.”

The Math Catcher program also offers an annual daylong math workshop at SFU for Grade 11 Aboriginal students, with the next one slated for Oct. 22.

“This is the fourth workshop,” says Jungic. “The first year, we had 40 students. Last year we had 100. It’s growing every year.”

For next year, Jungic is planning to add a five-week SFU math and science camp for Aboriginal students living in Burnaby, Surrey and Coquitlam.

“It will expose them to university while giving them new skills,” he says. “It has the support of the SFU Office for Aboriginal Peoples and will be funded through the faculties of Science and Applied Science.

“Our main goal is to boost First Nations students’ graduation from Math 12. If we don’t do that, we can’t get the students into university.”


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