The much anticipated smart mathematics laboratory, the first of its kind in a Jamaican high school, is now operational at the Tarrant High School in St. Andrew.
The lab, which was completed last month and will be officially opened in March, is the brainchild of Principal Paul Hall, who felt that the lab would be a creative way of engaging and helping the students to overcome their challenges with the often feared subject.
However, the main aim is to use technology to engage students, who, for the most part, are visual learners and technologically savvy.
The beautifully decorated lab, which is painted in a vibrant shade of blue and green and is adorned with drawings of mathematical tools, as well as formulas and inspirational quotes, on its walls, loudly speaks maths on entry.
It is also equipped with smart technology, such as a projector, smart television and a smart camera that will allow instructors to interact with mathematics specialists from anywhere in the world through smartphones and other devices while they teach and employ the use of teaching aids.
“I am very big on 21st-century learning. And, certainly, I think that technology is the way to go.”— Paul Hall
Students will also be able to participate in the class via their smart devices when they are absent. Additionally, teachers can record their presentations and share with other teachers, as well as access online videos, quizzes and other online resources that can enhance their lessons.
During a training session with the school’s maths teachers on how to utilise the facilities, Mr Hall shared that the school community is very excited about the lab and that he is very optimistic about the benefits that it will provide.
“I am very big on 21st-century learning. And, certainly, I think that technology is the way to go… The fact of the matter is that we are very weak in maths. And so it’s something that I’m looking at in different ways on how we can engage the students and we are looking at video conferencing,” he said.
Mathematics experts from The Mico University College will also be providing their expertise and will interface with the students in real-time via the technology in the maths lab.
“Last week, we introduced it to the students, you know, just to get feedback from [them], and they were really excited about it,” Mr Hall said.
He indicated that the teachers who participated in the training session were equally excited and pleased with what they had seen.
“The fact that the teachers are excited, I feel very good about it…it’s certainly something that we’re looking at in terms of …the long-term benefit”— Paul Hall
“The fact that the teachers are excited, I feel very good about it, and so these features that we are putting in place, doesn’t necessarily mean that you will see the results tomorrow, but it’s certainly something that we’re looking at in terms of the engagement for the long-term benefit,” the Principal stated.
Head of the Mathematics Department, Dominique Parnell, similarly shared that the responses from the teachers have been good and they are especially excited about the recording feature.
“So that’s one of the things that the teachers are really buying into because as you know, certain teachers are stronger at certain subject areas, and they bring out more vibes in teaching certain topics,” Mrs Parnell said.
“And that will be something that’s extremely helpful because when we take down some of the videos on YouTube, sometimes they are not necessarily catered to our students, so for us to be able to do that now, we see where that’s going to be able to help them greatly within the classroom,” she added.
Another great feature of the lab that will be most helpful, Mrs Parnell said, is the maths lab’s ability to connect with students when they are absent, noting that, from time to time, several of her students have had to spend days in the hospital.