Making a case for mathematics

Jennifer Kinser – Traut is project director at the University of Arizona college of education. Earlier this month she published “Why Math?” in Mathematics Teacher.

Before working with the Unversity of Arizona, Kinser -Traut, spent a decade as a high school math and science teacher. During her time in the K-12 system, she discovered that many of her students would enter her classroom with a negative attitude towards the need for mathematics.

To combat the negative energy, Kinser Traut began starting each ninth grade algebra course with a two-day project titled “Why Math?”

  • Her and the students met in the library computer lab, and students would have to find 1-3 reasons why they should care about math.
  • Students would look for connections with mathematics in their chosen areas, such as nursing, fashion, or skateboarding.

Kinser-Traut says prior to the “Why Math?” project, she would spend a lot of time trying to sell the students on math. She says her sales pitch was usually unsuccessful.

She says doing the “Why Math?” project with her students turned the tables and required the students to come up with the reasons mathematics is essential.

To hear our full interview with Kinser-Traut, listen to  Episode 101 of the Class Dismissed Podcast on iTunes or your favorite podcasting app.

Resources mentioned in the Bright Idea Segment.

Here are some helpful links where students can explore the application of math in their area of interest.

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