Year 10 students from John Pirie Secondary School put their mathematics knowledge to practice when they visited Sundrop Farms in early December.
The class have been studying quadratics and trigonometry and their teacher, Nyasha Tulloch believed that what better way to learn the subject than to see it working right in front of you.
Nyasha’s aim this year for her class was to make maths and learning meaningful. They were able to do this earlier in the year when they fundraised for Food for Education a Kenyan charity. She says that she had a mission to show that maths is useful and relevant and she was able to do this.
“The overarching aim was looking at can we feed the world and the two angles that we wanted to take was feeding the world through the social justice angle and this angle was the environmental sustainability side.”
The students’ visit to the local plant saw them explore several mathematics concepts and the locality of Sundrop was perfect for what Nyasha wanted her students to learn.
“Some of the mathematics we did was using quadratics. When they first started the old plant nearly 10 years ago, instead of using the current mirror situation they used parabolic mirrors. One of the things we talked about was how they have a focal point in the middle, using maths you can calculate that.”
“But some of the other maths was the trigonometry and that was looking at the height of the tower and the angle of the mirrors. There is so much more there to do and I would like to do another excursion there next year”, Nyasha said.
The plant which produces 70 tonnes of tomatoes per day and has a 10 year contract with Coles is very much self sufficient, taking water from the gulf and desalinating on site in addition to creating their own solar energy.
Nyasha says that what is amazing about it all is that they are growing tomatoes in the desert. “For me it was also what humans are capable of, what technology can do, what amazing things that are available to us and then for students to see the application of the maths in real life. ”
“We were thrilled. Not only did I enjoy it, my colleague did as well. I think the students really loved it. They were blown away how big it was and how amazing it was to see it all in real life.”