About Ariana-Stanca Vacaretu

Ariana is a Scientix Ambassador for Romania. Apart from Scientix, she has collaborated in other European projects like MatLan, MATh.en.JEANS or Doing Math as Researchers Do It - MatReLan. She has experience in and she promotes inquiry based learning, and the development of scientific literacy skills and transversal skills through STEM subjects.

Visible Maths

Mathematics is a subject that allows for precise thinking, but when that precise thinking is combined with creativity, openness, visualization, and flexibility, the mathematics comes alive.


The starting point of the Visible Maths series of workshops was the fact that students have difficulties understanding mathematical concepts. So, I thought that creating real objects that show mathematical concepts might support students’ understanding.  


The students involved in this project were 9th graders (14-15 years old) and I worked with Miruna Batin, a professional designer from Scientifica, for designing and implementing the workshops.


The workshops started at the begging of February, and we organised and implemented two workshops each month.

Workshop 1 (3 February 2022)– Launching the task

We started by launching the task.

Choose a mathematical concept (e.g. radian, cone sections, trigonometric circle, function, number, Pascal’s triangle, etc.) and design and make an object to illustrate the concept.

After that, the designer made a presentation about what is the design of an object & how to go from design to object.

Then, the students organized themselves in groups. After that, in the Zoom breakout rooms, they started to brainstorm for choosing the mathematical concepts.

Workshop 2 (17 February 2022) – Defining the idea  

The students’ teams continued their work in the Zoom breakout rooms for deciding on the mathematical concept chosen by the team. They had to vote for their favourite idea as a team. For this, they took time as much as they could to learn about the concept. They reflected on their learning by writing down on the team’s Jamboard:

  • information they already knew
  • 3 unanswered questions
  • 3 new information about the concept they found in their research
  • 1 thing other students should know about “their” math concept.

Workshop 3 (3 March 2022) – Function, form, and materials

Each team presented, in the plenary the maths concept and the object/ the mathematical experiment they intend to create, pointing out how people could interact with the object.

Then, the designer made a presentation on different types of materials and how object creators choose the materials for making stuff.

I never thought about the materials in such a detailed way.

Ana – student

After a Q&A session with the designer, they worked in teams (in the breakout rooms) for designing the objects and for deciding on the materials (type, quantity, providers) they need.

Workshops 4 & 5 (25 March & 13 April 2022) – Prototyping & testing

Each group created a mock-up of their object – from recycled material – as the students wanted to check if the maths experiments can be implemented.  

The Golden Ratio mock-up

Further, the students wrote on Jamboard questions about the prototype, dimensions of the objects, and materials. Both the designer and I gave feedback on the students’ work and tried to support students to find answers to their questions.

The Pascal’s Triangle – work in progress
The Pythagoras’ theorem – work in progress

Before the 5th workshop, the students “asked” for the materials they need by filling out a Google sheet. So, I bought the materials.

Radians & degrees – work in progress

So, the students started to work on the final version of their objects. Some of the groups have already finalised the work, and some are still working on them.

The inverse of a function

Workshop 6 (planned on the 28th of April 2022, postponed for mid-May) – Presenting the prototypes and the work process

As not all teams finished their work on the objects, we had to postpone the last workshop. Can’t wait to try all the maths experiments, together with the students’ teams.

Cone & Cylinder volumes

All the created objects will be donated to the maths teachers in our school – so, next school year we will use them and do the maths experiments with our students.

This series of workshops are local activities implemented in our school, Colegiul National Emil Racovita Cluj-Napoca, within the Smart Hands (Erasmus+ project).

Writing STEM research papers can be fun!

Students might enjoy writing STEM research papers if they know how do it.
This was the idea behind the activity developed within the STEM Discovery Week 2018 in the framework of the Maths&Languages (M&L) project.


Some more information about the background of our activity. Since September 2017 we developed, in partnership with Lycée d’Altitude de Briançon, a mathematics research workshop for high-school students. This workshop replicates research activities carried out by professional researchers. The workshop capitalises on the students’ inventiveness and creativity, inviting them to discover mathematics (and STEM) and to carry out research work in this field.

From our school, 33 students participated in this workshop. Throughout this school year, working in small groups, the students looked for mathematical solutions and did computer modelling for a problem/ research topic launched by researchers in the field of STEM. At this moment the research activities proper are over, and the students had the chance to share the results they have found – in the MATh.en.JEANS Lyon Congress and in the International MATh.en.JEANS Padova Congress.

Until the end of the school-year, the students will have to write research report articles in which they will share the research topic, how they approached the solution to the problem and the results they found.

About our STEM Discovery Week 2018 activity

The first step in preparing the research report article is to learn about research papers. During this activity, drd. Lorand Parajdi from the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Sciences from the Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca presented main elements of a STEM research paper, similarities and differences among physics or mathematics or medical research papers being pointed out. The researcher presented some examples of research papers and while doing this, a discussion on the content of the research paper was provoked by the students – e.g. CERN experiments.

An extensive part of the presentation was dedicated to the selection of the text editor; some information about LaTeX/ ShareLaTeX online editor was shared to students. As students worked with Romanian and French peers on their research topics, ShareLaTeX seems to be the perfect editor as it allows students to work collaboratively on a research paper which contains many mathematical expressions. There were many discussions about specific issues related to STEM research papers but also about the STEM research in Romania and Europe, about STEM research jobs, etc.


In the planning stage, we thought that students will have some time, during the activity, to plan their work on writing their research articles. However, because of the discussions provoked by the participating students – which I enjoyed as they were so much related to STEM research – there was no time to start planning the writing of the research articles …. We’ll do it next week.

The students enjoyed the presentation and the discussions with the researchers – one of them took notes, some other asked for the presentation, many of them saved on their cell-phones links (e.g.: ShareLaTeX link).

We love professionals coming back to school 🙂 . We learnt a lot new stuff directly from the “source”.

The researcher was impressed by the students’ eagerness to learn about STEM research & STEM research papers. He enjoyed the freshness of the students’ ideas and their curiosity.

I couldn’t imagine students are so curios and know so many things about stuff they don’t really study in school.