One reason why students think maths is a waste of time is because they do not see it in their world. It’s not just middle school students. We are all maths blind.
Here is the challenge. At the beginning of your next maths class:
Ask your students what ‘mathsy’ thing they have on them and see what happens. Mathspig started her ICME 13 Workshop with that question and maths teachers from around the world struggled to answer. Here is what happened.
More ideas below.
Note: I missed the significance of ‘Standing on the Shoulders of Giants’ Quote. It was from the great mathematician Sir Isaac Newton, 1776.
More Maths on or around you:
*food snacks: nutrition information, calories, cost.
*medication: recommended dose, concentration eg. 5 mg, quantity, cost.
*room temperature: weather forecast.
*Light Bulbs: Watts, brightness (lumens, inverse quadratic function)
*Flooring: Wood (parallel lines), carpet (tessellations), coefficient of friction (Don’t want people to slip in the wet).
*Windows, doors: Hinges (Fulcrum, Effort as a Hyperbolic function), opening/closing door is an equation of a circle, angles, fly screens (pattern), windows (pulleys sometimes), handles (knob or lever impacts on effort)
Table/desk/chair: Based on statistics to fit majority of students.
Leaning back on chair: Centre of Gravity. Watch out.
Sharpening pencil: Circular motion, sharpness of blade reduces force needed. Why?
Pens, books dropping on floor: Good old gravity. Works every time. Quadratic fn.
Fonts: Size. Based on statistics for readability. Watch the small print.
Jewellery: Geometric shapes & patterns, but also symmetry of diamond facets, weight of diamonds in carats, purity of gold in carats (different carat).
Zips: Interlocking pattern hopefully not interlocking with your skin.
Heating: Flow rate, cost, vent locations.
Architecture: Of building involves length, height, area and cost.
External Noise: Wall thickness. Sound proofing.
Rubbish: Recycling. Why do it?
Tights: You buy them using a height weight graph on the back of the packet.