Solving the affordable housing problem

02 Jul, 2021
Solving the affordable housing problem

AUT academics have partnered with Manurewa High School to bring mathematical modelling to life, giving students a chance to use mathematical modelling to solve a long-standing community problem – the lack of affordable housing.

The project, funded by SouthSci, was designed to make mathematical modelling tangible and relevant, and to help high school teachers build their teaching skills.

Over the course of 10 weeks, Senior Lecturers Kerri Spooner and Junior Nomani have been leading a teaching unit on mathematical modelling on Manurewa High School's Wānanga Wednesdays, with the support of Manurewa High School teachers Aarthi Pilli and Lawarence Naicker. Students have been developing mathematical models to investigate issues affecting affordable housing and what that means for their future.

Kerri Spooner says bringing mathematical modelling to life is essential to getting students excited about maths. "Getting students to see the world through the eyes of mathematical modelling means we can  break down the barriers and make it accessible. We're taking some of the abstractness out of mathematics and making it concrete and relevant.

"The students in our class have chosen to be there – they know mathematical modelling can be a huge part in solving the problems around them, and we're helping set them up for success."

Spatial analysts Chad Hu and Krystal Alferez from Auckland Council talked to the students about considerations for growth models, as well as providing insight into the type of work analysts do.

Eight students, Jasmine Rahman, Braxton Phillips, Analina Namoa, Tegan Pegler, Elvis Long, Amisha Maharha, Britney Chapman and Atelina Chand presented their key findings to Auckland Council on 1 July. They say learning about mathematical modelling and applying it to real life problems in their own community has been eye-opening. "We know there aren't enough houses now – and the work we've done has helped crystalise the issues for us. We need more affordable houses for bigger families like those in our communities."