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The ICSE Consortium Introduced: IMI-BAS

By November 2019 December 10th, 2019 No Comments

Institute of Mathematics and Informatics at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences

The Institute of Mathematics and Informatics at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (IMI-BAS), is located in Sofia. It was created shortly after the end of WWII by the effort and high professionalism of a generation of Bulgrian mathematicians whom we now thankfully call the pivots of Bulgarian mathematics. Currently, the main scientific trends are Mathematical Structures, Mathematical Modelling, Mathematical Informatics and Education in Mathematics and Informatics.

A major part of IMI’s policy is the participation in Bulgarian educational programs on all levels, so that the stable development of the scientific potential in the areas of mathematics and computer science can be guaranteed. The activities in this domain are manifold: training MSc and PhD candidates, outstanding school students (including coaching of the national teams in mathematics, informatics and mathematical linguistics), professional development of school teachers, preparation of undergraduate and postgraduate students for scientific work by directly involving them in research.

The date 27 October 1947 is considered the birth date of the IMI. ©IMI-BAS

Researchers, institutes, publications: the institute in numbers

The institute has a total staff of 209 (153 researchers). The high caliber of the researchers at IMI-BAS assures a lasting collaboration (projects, educational programs, scientific events, exchange of visits) with more than 60 universities and scientific research institutes from over 40 countries. Each year IMI-BAS welcomes over 100 renowned foreign scholars, organizes more than 20 scientific conferences, seminars and schools. The research staff of IMI-BAS produces about 400 original papers annually, with some 200 of them in high-profile journals and proceedings of prestigious international scientific conferences. IMI-BAS has published three scientific journals and another four in cooperation with other institutions.

A PD course on IBL using resources from VirMathLab. ©IMI-BAS

The only institute at the BAS with an educational department

The expertise of IMI-BAS in the field of STEM education is concentrated on education in mathematics, informatics and ICT, and includes the development of educational strategies for integrating ICT in education and implementing Inquiry-based learning (IBL) in Bulgarian schools. The IMI-BAS is the only institute of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences with an educational department. It provides scientific, methodological and technical support for teachers by (i) developing and providing free access to learning environments enhancing the inquiry based mathematics education (IBME), and (ii) organising courses on IBME under contracts from the Ministry of Education and Science (MES) for teachers with different IT competence levels from all kind of schools of the country – primary, secondary, vocational. It is through these activities that IMI-BAS is recognized as a Professional Development Centre for IBME in Bulgaria.

National seminars for teachers and international conferences

In addition, IMI-BAS organizes annually a national seminar on Inquiry based mathematic education for Bulgarian teachers in mathematics, informatics and IT, as well as an international conference on Dynamic mathematics in education. The connection between schools and teachers is facilitated through the close cooperation of IMI-BAS with the Union of Bulgarian Mathematicians (UBM), which has more than 50 branches all over the country and comprises more than 1,800 teachers. The network of UBM ensures dissemination and implementation of innovative educational resources for in-services and pre-service teachers alike.

Since 1985, the institute dedicates significant efforts in the development and the dissemination of virtual educational resources and environments based on specialized software, appropriate for conducting experiments and explorations, for observing patterns and formulating hypotheses. Currently, an open access to a Virtual School Mathematics Laboratory (VirMathLab) with more than 1200 learning computer environments in support of the Inquiry Based Mathematics Education (IBME) is being developed, maintained and enriched.

Mathematical contests on real-life problems, mentoring programs: IMI promotes STEM education on many levels

To take an important further step towards enhancing the digital and mathematical competences of the students by exploring some real-life problems of mathematical nature with digital tools, a team of mathematicians and educators of the IMI-BAS launched two contests on a specially designed web-based platform, Viva Cognita: Mathematics with a computer and Mathematical theme of the month. On a regular basis, the institute delivers courses and seminars with teachers for preparing their students for these new types of contests. The ultimate goal is to challenge and motivate students on a larger scale to do mathematics rather than only learn about it and to see through the eyes of professional mathematicians.

Workshop for math teachers. ©IMI-BAS

Enhancing students’ research potential in mathematics and informatics

IMI-BAS has gained extensive experience over many years in enhancing the research potential in mathematics and informatics among pupils throughout the country. The Junior Branch of IMI-BAS, known as the High School Student Institute of Mathematics and Informatics (HSSI), was established in 2000 (the Year of Mathematics). A group of IMI-BAS researchers are involved in assisting not only the intellectual and professional growth of the HSSI students but also in the professional development of mathematics and informatics mentors in improving their mentoring skills at the guided and the open inquiry.

The IMI is widely connected in networks and projects dealing with STEM education

The institute has organized seminars with STEM teachers focusing on project work at the highest levels of IBMSE within the frames of the traditional events of the HSSI (winter and spring conferences as well as its summer research school). Thanks to its successful participation in a number of European projects dealing with STEM education (e.g. InnoMathEd, Fibonacci, Math2Earth, DynaMat, Mascil, KeyCoMat, Scientix), IMI-BAS has been recognized as a reliable partner in the development of educational strategies and resources in support of the implementation of IBL at all levels.

Internationally, IMI-BAS is a member of some of the most prestigious international organizations: International Mathematical Union and European Consortium for Mathematics in Industry. IMI has framework contracts for joint research and exchange of specialists negotiated with universities and research centres in more than 25 countries.

IMI and ICSE: Pursuing the same objectives

The educational component of the activities of IMI-BAS have been in harmony with the main goals of ICSE. Thus, representatives of IMI-BAS were honored and pleased to accept the invitation of Prof. Katja Maas, for the Institute to become one of the now 16 ICSE consortium members.

The establishment of the European Impact Board (EIB), consisting of five tandems of the type ministry-research (high educational) institution was an interesting initiative in the frames of the MaSDiV project of ICSE. The Bulgarian tandem consisted of the Ministry of Education and Science (MES) and the IMI-BAS. Currently, we collaborate with the University of Freiburg in two European projects: STEM-PD-Net and ENSITE. Even from the first meetings of ICSE, it became clear to the participants that this organization offers long-term fruitful collaboration of representatives of different STEM fields with a common goal – to enhance the joy of learning and creating for all ages.

Joint activity with a project partner from Austria during an IBL seminar. ©IMI-BAS

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