‘Unexpected and wonderful outcome’ of maths project recognised

Published 13 April 2010

lookerA presentation to employees at Acacia Park Enterprises in Armidale has celebrated an unexpected outcome of the work that a team of the organisation’s employees is doing for the University of New England.

That “unexpected and wonderful outcome”, explained UNE’s Associate Professor Lorraine Graham, is an improvement in the numeracy skills of some of the employees working on the project.

The Acacia Park team has been working for several years on the collation of numeracy resources used in the QuickSmart program. QuickSmart – an intervention program developed by Dr Graham and the Director of the UNE-based National Centre of Science, ICT and Mathematics Education for Rural and Regional Australia (SiMERR), Professor John Pegg – is helping school students around the nation improve their basic skills in mathematics. The QuickSmart resources include games and “flash cards” designed to help students develop automaticity in basic mathematics skills.

Acacia Park Enterprises is a division of The Ascent Group – an organisation that supports people with a disability across the New England and North West regions of NSW. Over the past two years, the Acacia Park team has sorted about two million cards into sets of QuickSmart resources. During the process, some members of the team have developed an interest in – and have improved their ability to answer – arithmetic questions such as those presented on the cards.

The recent presentation was made by Mr Glenn Luchetti, General Manager of The Plastics Factory in Coffs Harbour. The Plastics Factory produces the high-quality perspex boxes in which the QuickSmart resource kits are distributed. Mr Luchetti presented one of these boxes to Will Brunsdon and Astrid Scott, two of the Acacia Park employees who have worked on the QuickSmart project. He said his company had been impressed by the improved numeracy outcome for the employees, the important work being accomplished by the QuickSmart program, and the University’s business collaboration with local organisations.

Will and Astrid both said they had enjoyed working on the QuickSmart project. They have both been participants in Acacia Park Enterprises’ “Transition to Work” program, and they accepted The Plastics Factory’s generous gift for use within that program. SiMERR has donated the flash cards and other materials to complete the resource kit.

Mr Barry Looker, Coordinator of Customer Relations for Acacia Park Enterprises, said the employees had worked diligently on the QuickSmart project, increasing their speed in completing the kits while maintaining a keen eye for accuracy.

Dr Graham said the QuickSmart program was on track to be implemented in more than 400 schools – with a presence in every Australian State and Territory – by the end of this year.

THE PHOTOGRAPH displayed here expands to show Glenn Luchetti (left) presenting the QuickSmart resource kit to Will Brunsdon and Astrid Scott (centre front). They are joined by (from left) Associate Professor Lorraine Graham, Barry Looker, and Alison Quaife (coordinator of the Transition to Work program).