As one of Ireland’s largest telecoms companies, we follow with great interest the development of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) schemes. One of the more successful programs in recent years is LearnStorm Maths Challenge in association with the Khan Academy.
Learnstorm is a nine-week maths challenge for primary and secondary school students, from 4th class to 5th year. Each week participating students complete maths activities that have been specifically designed for their age group and ability. Students earn points for each new skill practised, and extra points for practising and sticking with skills they find particularly challenging.
Students can earn rewards as an individual, working towards badges, certificates, and entry into the finals event. Schools can also enter as a group, vying for top places on the leaderboard and taking home a trophy, as well as going on to take part in the finals event. The first nine-week challenge kicked off on 29th January and will run until 1st April. The nine-week programme culminates in provisional finals, followed by an All-Ireland event.
We were lucky enough last year to host the Leinster finals at the eir HQ. The energy and enthusiasm in the room was infectious. The students were so excited to be there and to showcase what they had learned. It’s this level of enthusiasm that’s so important to harness as we move into a future where maths, engineering, science and technology will be vital skills to have.
Connectivity playing a key role in new way of learning
What Learnstorm does so well is its ability to recognise students at an individual level; the programme is tailored to each child’s particular ability and students are encouraged to learn at their own pace. There’s no doubt that education and the way children learn now is completely different from even 10 years ago. The LearnStorm Maths Challenge taps into that change. It’s an online programme that students can work on at school and at home.
What this new way of learning highlights though is how important connectivity has become, not just for business or work, but for education. For many kids around the country homework now involves using the internet for research, using online applications to complete assignments, reading ebooks or completing activities like Learnstorm online. It’s a brave new world, and we need to make sure our children can participate in it.
LearnStorm Maths Challenge: What’s it all about
Learnstorm started life as MATHletes and was so successful that the Khan Academy re-branded the programme and expanded it to the US. Here in Ireland, Learnstorm is delivered locally by non-profit organisation Camara Ireland, which has big hopes for the programme. In the past couple of years the LearnStorm Maths Challenge has gone from strength to strength; in 2015 around 13,000 students, 300 schools and 500 teachers took part in the programme. There’s great ambition to grow the programme, and there’s no doubt the enthusiasm is there.
At eir Business, Learnstorm has really struck a chord with our new graduate programme; our current recruits are actively working to help drive schools and teacher recruitment for Learnstorm. These eir recruits understand the value of a great education and want to help make a difference for the next generation coming up after them. It’s inspiring to see their enthusiasm for getting involved and wanting to reach backwards and help today’s kids be the best they can be. The future is in safe hands.