The Math Catcher Outreach Program is a science outreach initiative at Simon Fraser University run by SFU faculty and staff members and students who volunteer their time towards the program.

Math Catcher aims to tackle the stigma surrounding mathematics among Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth through a series of initiatives. These include school visits, workshops, academic summer camps, tutoring programs, and classroom resources. 

The main goal of the Program is to encourage students to discover the joy and appeal of mathematics at a critical age. Our hope is that they may better understand the presence and importance of mathematics in everyday life and consider it as a field of study and future career.

Introducing Math and Science to Students

Math Catcher introduces mathematics and science to students through the use of First Nations imagery and storytelling. Math Catcher has produced animated films in the following languages Blackfoot, Cree, English, French, Gitxsan, Halq’em ́eylem, Heiltsuk, Hul’q’umi’num’, Huu-ay- aht, Nisga’a, Tla'amin, Spanish, Squamish, and Wet'suwet'en as well as bilingual picture books in Blackfoot/English, Cree/English, Squamish/English, Nisga’a/English, and Tla'amin/English. The Program is based on the belief that it is crucial that we engage students in mathematics and science at the early age.

Classroom Resources

To support teachers and students in the exploration of the mathematical concepts contained in the Small Number stories, we are creating a series of classroom resources based on each story. Each resource includes the following: mathematical concepts contained in the story; mathematical vocabulary used in the story; cultural components in the story; possible answers to the open-ended question at the end of the story; and mathematics in- and out-of-classroom activities based on the story.

In the News

The Math Catcher Outreach Program has been part of Canadian educational environment for more than ten years. Visit the In the News page to learn more.

Math Catcher Calendar

The 2022 calendar pages are a tribute to the story Small Number and the Old Canoe which was originally written by Veselin Jungic and Mark MacLean in English and has been translated into 11 other languages.

Illustrations by Simon Roy.

To upload: Math Catcher 2022 Calendar and Math Catcher 2021 Calendar.

How it all began...

In the Spring of 2011, NSERC awarded a PromoScience grant to the project Math Catcher: Mathematics Through Aboriginal Storytelling. The project was also sponsored by the Pacific Institute for Mathematical Sciences, the Faculty of Science, the Department of Mathematics and the IRMACS Centre from Simon Fraser University, and the Department of Mathematics from the University of British Columbia.

The project is an outcome of the BIRS supported First Nations Math Education Workshop which was held in Banff, Alberta, in November 2009. As it is stated in the Workshop’s Final Report:

[T]he workshop was based on the assumption that First Nations/Aboriginal student participation and success in school math programs is limited. (...) Presently only 2% of BC’s Aboriginal population completes Principles of Mathematics 12 compared to a completion rate of 25% for

the whole BC population. This discrepancy in completion rate is one of the issues this group wanted to address given that successful completion of Principles of Mathematics 12 is a compulsory entrance prerequisite for many post- secondary programs in British Columbia, and the statistics are similar in the other provinces.

Math Catcher was particularly inspired by the following two conclusions identified by Workshop participants as strategies for overcoming challenges in teaching mathematics to Aboriginal youth:

  • Teach math in the cultural context of the students
  • Teach basic skills and problem-solving early.

During the workshop, Veselin Jungic and Mark MacLean co-wrote a story, Small Number Counts to 100, which served as the cornerstone of the Math Catcher Outreach Program.

National Outreach

Between 2011-2021 the Math Catcher Program visited more than 85 communities, some of them multiple times, in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Great Britain, and Australia. During those visits more than 30,000 students, teachers, academics, and community members attended more than 800 Math Catcher workshops, presentations, and community events. To view all of the places visited by Math Catcher, click here.

Giving Opportunities

Your generosity allows the Math Catcher Outreach Program to continue to promote mathematics and scholarship among Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth. GIVE NOW