Strength in numbers.


Byline: Tracey Johnstone

MATHEMATICS innovator and former lecturer Dr Calvin Irons says everywhere we turn, across the ages, maths is in our lives.

Just look at the discussion around coronavirus.

"I can see tons of mathematics that they are using to describe it all," Dr Irons said.

His passion is in developing tools for teachers, parents and even grandparents to educate the very young to enjoy the complexity of maths in a simplified and enjoyable way.

At age 70, and with an inquisitive mind still working at full speed, he walked out the door of the Queensland University of Technology and into his maths education busines Origo.

"I finished on a Friday and on Saturday I was on a plane to work in the Origo office in the US," Dr Irons said.

The international business, which he started with one of his former students, is in its 25th year. It focuses on providing, through teachers, down-to-earth maths education for primary school aged students.

Origo sells its teachers' resources into Australia and internationally, including to ASEAN countries who want to upskill their teachers specifically in mathematics.

"The material has much more visual representations," Dr Irons said. "The definition of understanding is when you have a good picture in your brain of whatever you are talking about.

"You don't get pictures in your brain if you are juggling mathematical symbols. You have to have objects that you can relate to those mathematical symbols." Dr Irons works alongside a "family" of younger enthusiasts who look to him to keep finding ideas to grow the business in this ever-changing world.

"They're amazed at times what Rosemary and I come up with to explain something," he said.

Rosemary is his wife, 74, who has worked in the Origo team since the company's inception.

The former primary school teacher went on to study mathematics at Indiana University.

"She has written a lot of the foundation materials," Dr Irons said. While Rosemary isn't hands-on anymore, Dr Irons said he still enjoyed brainstorming ideas with her.

Now at 76 Dr Irons is taking on the new challenge of driving the...

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