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Making a case for mathematics

Mathematics is one of the world’s most fundamental and essential subjects, with applications that extend across a wide range of disciplines and industries. But sometimes, it isn’t easy to convince high school students of the importance of math. Our guest in Episode 240 of Class Dismissed is here to arm us with some tricks to show students the importance of math.

Jennifer Kinser–Traut is a project director at the University of Arizona College of education. However, Kinser-Traut spent a decade as a high school math and science teacher before working with the university. While in the K-12 system, she discovered that many students would enter her classroom with a negative attitude toward the need for mathematics.

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

  • She 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 before 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.

Why is math relevant to the real world?

  1. Solving everyday problems: Math is used to solve everyday situations, such as calculating how much to tip at a restaurant, determining the best deal when shopping, or estimating the time needed to complete a task.
  2. Science and engineering: Math is essential in fields like science and engineering, where it is used to model and solve complex problems in areas such as physics, chemistry, and computer science. Without math, we wouldn’t be able to design and build the technologies that have transformed our world.
  3. Business and finance: Math is essential in business and finance, where it is used to analyze data, create financial models, and make predictions. Understanding math is crucial for making informed financial decisions, managing budgets, and investing wisely.
  4. Medicine and healthcare: Math is used extensively in medicine and healthcare, where it is used to model and analyze biological systems, develop medical devices, and design clinical trials.
  5. Sports and entertainment: Math is also relevant in sports and entertainment, where it is used to analyze data and make predictions. For example, sports analysts use math to calculate player statistics and predict game outcomes, while animators and game developers use math to create realistic animations and graphics.

To hear our full interview with Kinser-Traut, listen to  Episode 240 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.

Links related to the creativity quiz

Can You Tell Creativity Fact from Fiction?

Original Creative Myths Study

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