Inventor’s Gadget: Making fractions fun

2008-10-13 00:00

WHEN maths and science teacher Vusi Ndlela resigned from the profession in 2005, inventing a tool that could benefit the process of education in South African schools was not part of his future plans.

Yet it was exactly this move that helped him realise his dreams of being in contact with a bigger classroom, not just limited to one school.

Ndlela has devised a learning tool he calls the Fraxion Master, targeting grades three to seven, to simplify the teaching and learning of fractions. “I have been teaching for 12 years and, not to blow my own trumpet, I have always known through the results I produced and the people I had taught that maths and teaching were gifts I had. Even when I stopped teaching, people continued to come to me for assistance.

“The common element I found was that whether those children were from public or private schools, they could not handle fractions with ease. It became a challenge, since if you pull out any matric paper, you’ll find a fraction in almost every question.”

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The game-like gadget is a combination of two familiar teaching models, but Ndela believes what’s unique about it is that pupils can manipulate the elements, which heightens interest and results in pupils learning by making their own discoveries.

Ndlela said too much emphasis is put on “quick-fix options” at matric level whereas energy should have been on creating solid foundations, which is why Fraxion Master targets the foundation and intermediate phases.

Ndlela has approached both the national and regional Education departments, which were impressed with his work, but need evidence that it works.

To do that, he is undertaking a pilot project, for which he needs 200 prototypes for children in five schools.

Ndlela has identified someone to manufacture these, but the mold alone will cost R250 000.

“I’m very confident, but it is a bit of a gamble since the Education Department has not committed itself yet.”

He said he realises that sponsorship doesn’t come easy and therefore would be willing to go into a partnership with people in order to facilitate a quicker process.

To contact Ndlela call 078 250 8542.

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