The push for science & maths

Three UNSW academics including the Dean of Science have been chosen to discuss the state of maths and science education at a public symposium in Canberra.


UNSW Dean of Science, Professor Merlin Crossley, mathematician, Dr Chris Tisdell, and medical researcher, Dr Darren Saunders, have been chosen to discuss the state of maths and science education at a public symposium in Canberra.

They will be three of the five panellists adding their voices to a national debate on how to address a decline in the number of high school students choosing science and maths in senior years.

The symposium, hosted by the academic and research online news site, The Conversation, will be held tomorrow, on June 26. 

It will be attended by the Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Chubb. The Minister for Higher Education and Skills, Sharon Bird, will provide a welcome message by video, and the event MC will be ABC Catalyst co-presenter, Graham Phillips.

The symposium is the culmination of a 10-day series on maths and science education, available at The Conversation.

Its aim is to bring together academic experts, government decisions makers, stakeholder groups and the public to inform action on this critical policy issue.

The debate will be live-streamed from 2pm AEST and accessible at

People can join in by posting questions via the comments section, or on Twitter at #MathsSciEd or The Conversation's Facebook page.

Professor Crossley, Dr Tisdell and Dr Saunders, were chosen as panellists from the 11 authors whose articles were published out of more than 60 article submissions made to the series' editors.

In his article, Professor Crossley argues higher university entry scores for teaching and greater financial rewards on graduation are among the changes needed to raise the status of science and maths teaching and address a shortage of top teachers in these areas.

Dr Tisdell, who is well known for his pioneering work sharing mathematics via YouTube, argues in his article that the future of education will be digital, on-demand and mobile. He says online mathematics resources could complement classroom teaching and inspire more high school students to do these subjects.

Dr Saunders, of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, argues in his article that PhD graduates should be encouraged to take up teaching so they can impart their passion for science to students and draw on their research expertise to engage them in “learning by doing”.

The other two speakers are Dr Jenny Donovan, a lecturer in education at the University of Southern Queensland and Dr Rachel Grieve, a lecturer in psychology at the University of Tasmania.