Hundreds of female students empowered to kick learning goals

Still buzzing from seeing their newfound heroes, the Matildas, achieve amazing World Cup success, a group of 200 female students hit the field at Industree Stadium, Gosford to participate in Maths with Mariners.

Over two huge days, the years 6, 7 and 8 students from 13 schools across the Central Coast, Sydney, and Lake Macquarie regions were inspired to engage with mathematics through football-related activities, demonstrating math applications in a real-life setting.

Run by a team of University of Newcastle students and lecturers from both Education and sports science, together with the Central Coast Mariners Women’s team and Central Coast Sports College, the students had a chance to show off and discover their sporting and math skills.

Bachelor of Exercise and Sport Science student, Taylor Dickson said the best part of volunteering on the day was being able to see the all the girls getting involved and giving it their best shot.

“The students are able to interact with each other without that added pressure of having boys around, they’re given their own space to work things out for themselves,” explained Taylor.

“I’m passionate about sport, so studying the Bachelor of Exercise Sport Science was the obvious choice when I was deciding what to study at uni. I get to help people discover the importance of being physically active and creating a better lifestyle.”

“It was so cool to see everyone getting into the Women’s World Cup recently and finally start to understand why I love my sport. Women’s sport doesn’t get a lot of coverage so to see that diversity celebrated all around me was awesome,” said Taylor.

Bachelor of Exercise Sport Science student Taylor Dickson runs through drills with the school students

Bachelor of Exercise and Sport Science student Taylor Dickson runs through drills with the students.

Ava-Marie Carlson from Central Coast Sports College plays for the first grade Mariners team and the Junior Matildas and says that seeing women represented in sports helped her on her journey to pursuing football.

“When I was about 12, I saw these girls’ playing soccer on the TV, and they were actually going far with it. So, because I had these female role models playing soccer, I realised that was something that I could do too,” explains Ava-Marie.

“Seeing all the kids today actually giving it a go has been really good. I think having the uni students and us from the Sports College getting in there and doing the activities with them has helped them, showing them that it’s okay if you mess up, you just give it another go.”

A student kicks a soccer ball as part of one of the math exercises

Students participated in activities that demonstrated math applications in a real life setting.

Dr Nick Riley, Senior Lecturer in the School of Education reflects on the importance of this program to inspire female school students in the Central Coast to pursue careers in STEM and at the University of Newcastle.

“Our Maths with Mariners program is committed to making an impact on the Coast and the popularity of the FIFA Women’s World Cup has gone a long way to grow interest in football here on the Coast. So, with this program we aim to engage students in maths by using football as the hook,” Dr Riley said.

“We want to get students to meet their academic learning goals through sport and encourage them to see that a future career in STEM is a definite possibility and we want them to aspire to become a student at our University.”

The Maths with Mariners program is currently focussed on the Central Coast with hopes to expand the program into other sports and locations.

Mariners A-League Women's Head Coach Emily Husband takes a selfie with students

Mariners A-League Coach Emily Husband takes a selfie with students.