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Rebecca Garrett, head of mathematics at Trinity College, and Andrew Gill, a mathematician at Defence Science and Technology (DST), work together in an after-school program allowing Year 10 extension maths students to work on problems from data analytics to optimisation and spam filters.

So how does your Google home know how to respond when you ask a question?

Rebecca Garrett, head of mathematics at Trinity College, is partnered with Andrew Gill, a mathematician at Defence Science and Technology (DST). ©  CSIRO

Speech recognition….but what makes the speech recognition process function? Well that’s where mathematics comes into the equation (pardon the pun).

Rebecca Garrett, head of mathematics at Trinity College explains, “Mathematics can seem quite abstract but it’s actually fundamental to much of the technology we use today.”

Joining the STEM Professionals in Schools program, Rebecca was partnered with Andrew Gill, a mathematician at Defence Science and Technology (DST).

Rebecca says, “Andrew comes in and engages the kids in real-life maths. It’s something that’s exciting! Recently we’ve been working on mathematical modelling for readability to predict the grade level of children’s books.”

Because of the flexibility of the STEM Professionals in Schools program, Andrew and Rebecca work together in an after-school program. Year 10 extension maths students from Trinity College campuses around Gawler, come to the senior school for six sessions per term to work on problems from data analytics to optimisation and spam filters.

“A program like STEM Professionals in Schools enables the students to see the real-world applications of mathematics,” says Rebecca.

Andrew adds, “Particularly in mathematics there’s been a worry trend of declining participation. So for us to employ the best and brightest scientists and engineers into the future, DST really recognises the need to grow the talent pipeline across the STEM fields.”

“Engaging with students in schools is one of the ways we do that and it’s so encouraging to know that the students want to stay after school to study maths!”

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