Workshops - Junior College

Theme: Mathematical and Computational Thinking

JC1: What is Computational Thinking for JC Students?

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Professor Yap Von Bing

Vice President of the Singapore Mathematical Society
National University of Singapore

Biography. Dr Yap went to NUS for BSc in Mathematics and MSc in Applied Mathematics, and then got a PhD in Statistics from University of California. He has been teaching at NUS since 2004. His main interests are in the application of statistics to scientific problems, mainly in evolutionary biology and ecology, and the design of lessons in mathematics, statistics and the sciences for pre-university and undergraduate students. He is a current Vice President of the Singapore Mathematical Society.

Abstract. The workshop starts with a perspective of algorithms and their connection to how computation is done by the mind and the computer (without using any specific language). A key concept is iteration of steps, with a fixed or a conditional number of repeats. Building on this foundation, a series of tasks are presented for which the participants will construct algorithms, where the ideas of iteration and step may become clearer and transferable.

Target audience. Junior College Mathematics Teachers

S4/JC2: Yabasic Programming for Mathematics Teachers

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Dr Paul Shutler

Mathematics and Mathematics Education AG
National Institute of Education
Nanyang Technological University

Biography. Dr Paul Shutler holds a BA in Mathematics from the University of Cambridge, and a DPhil in Mathematics from the University of Oxford. Upon graduation he joined the National Institute of Education, Singapore. His research interests include discrete and combinatorial systems, especially those arising in the fields Operations Research, Statistical Physics, and Computational Imaging. He is also interested in the History of Mathematics, especially its implications for Mathematics Education. He teaches courses in Operations Research, Computational Mathematics, the History of Mathematics, and courses in fundamental concepts of mathematics for Primary School teachers. Every year he teaches Yabasic programming to large groups of non-math major undergraduates.

Abstract. Yabasic is a thoroughly updated and modernised version of the traditional BASIC programming language, which runs on all versions of Windows, and on Mac and UNIX based systems. Yabasic is excellent for beginners, since it inherits all of the learner-friendly features that were built into the original BASIC while eliminating most of its weaknesses. By allowing novices to acquire computational thinking skills in a benign environment, Yabasic dramatically lowers the barriers to learning other modern programming languages such as Python, C++, and Java, which are optimized for professional use and not for beginners.

The aim of this workshop is to investigate how the Yabasic programming language can be used in the mathematics classroom, both for teaching computational thinking skills, and for learning mathematics. Examples will be drawn from number theory, graph plotting, solutions of equations, Monte Carlo integration and even fractals. Technical issues, such as ease of installation, and comparison with other more popular programming languages such as Python, will also be covered during the workshop.

Target audience. Secondary & Junior College Mathematics Teachers

Specific requirements for workshop. Participants are strongly encouraged to bring a Windows based laptop to the workshop so that they can install and run Yabasic on their own device during the workshop. Mac users are also welcome to attend, and full instructions on how to install Yabasic on a Mac are available at <<< >>> The process is not difficult, but the additional time required compared to installation on a Windows based system means that this should be done before the start of the workshop.

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