Pune-based Online Science/Maths Learning Platform Function Space gets funding

Pune-based Function Space, an online “social” platform for learning science and maths has recently raised seed funding from Nexus Venture Partners.

Function Space is trying to make STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education fun and engaging, something that is seriously been missing from our education system

Function Space, already offers a strong community consisting of users from over 190 countries, including students, professors and researchers from MIT, Stanford, University of California, Berkeley and Los Angeles campuses, Indian Institute of Technology campuses, Indian Institute of Science and other prestigious institutions.

The funding will be used for expansion: of their content, their tools, and their customer reach.

Function Space was founded in 2013 by Adit Gupta, Sakshi Majmudar and Sumit Maniyar.

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Our Maths education is broken because the curriculum is 1000 years old

Shrikant Patil points us to this interesting article on how the 1,000-year-old math curriculum cheats America’s kids

Imagine you had to take an art class in which you were taught how to paint a fence or a wall, but you were never shown the paintings of the great masters, and you weren’t even told that such paintings existed. Pretty soon you’d be asking, why study art?

                                       That's absurd, of course, but it's surprisingly close to the way we teach children mathematics.

That’s because the things we’re taught in school mathematics are all a 1000 years old (or much more):

Most of us never get to see the real mathematics because our current math curriculum is more than 1,000 years old. For example, the formula for solutions of quadratic equations was in al-Khwarizmi’s book published in 830, and Euclid laid the foundations of Euclidean geometry around 300 BC. If the same time warp were true in physics or biology, we wouldn’t know about the solar system, the atom and DNA. This creates an extraordinary educational gap for our kids, schools and society.

Just because something is old, we shouldn’t discard it; but we need to mix in some of the new with the old:

Of course, we still need to teach students multiplication tables, fractions and Euclidean geometry. But what if we spent just 20% of class time opening students’ eyes to the power and exquisite harmony of modern math? What if we showed them how these fascinating concepts apply to the real world, how the abstract meets the concrete? This would feed their natural curiosity, motivate them to study more and inspire them to engage math beyond the basic requirements — surely a more efficient way to spend class time than mindless memorization in preparation for standardized tests.

What is preventing us from doing this?

In my experience, kids are ready for this. It’s the adults that are hesitant.

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Great English teachers improve students’ Math scores – Stanford Researchers

According to research by Stanford and Univ. of Virginia researchers having great English teachers results in significant long-term improvements in the Maths scores of students, for reasons that are not very clear yet.

This finding is the result of a long-term, large study:

The researchers, Benjamin Master, Susanna Loeb and James Wyckoff, looked at 700,000 students in New York City in third through eighth grade over the course of eight school years (from 2003-04 to 2011-12).

and this is the finding:

The researchers found that the students of good English language arts teachers had higher than expected math scores in subsequent years. And this long-term boost to math performance was nearly as large (three quarters) as the long-term benefits within the subject of English. Conversely, good math teachers had only minimal long-term effects on English performance. Their positive effects were more subject specific.

The main take-away message is that we shouldn’t simply focus on Maths and Science – language is important:

“Our findings reinforce the value of investments in student learning in ELA (English language arts), even if the immediate effects of teachers or other instructional interventions may appear modest in comparison to effects on short-term math achievement,” the authors wrote. The authors added  that their motivation for this study was a concern that many school districts are too narrowly focusing on rating teachers based on short-term test gains and they wanted to try to understand what kinds of teaching produce long-term learning benefits.

Why English teaching matters so much in other subjects is unclear.

Read the full article or the original paper.