In the past few days I encountered two teachers who spoke with me about how often students say, "When will I ever use this stuff?" One of the teachers is working on a poster series for her class where she asks those around her how they have used math in their jobs. The other teacher talked about how your math skills can limit you in surprising ways. She said, "Have you ever doubled a recipe? There's a classic example of multiplying fractions." Both are being creative in helping students identify the everday necessity of math.
One of my favorite professors in college was an expert at finding ways to apply math and science to everyday happenings. In our Physics class he would create assignments based on his home life. One time a sprinkler burst spilling water into one of the egress wells of his basement window. The assignment was to determine the force being exerted on the window at different points. For another assignment he hooked his truck to a measurement device and created graphs while doing different things: breaking, accelerating, putting it on cruise. We were supposed to determine what was being done at certain points of time utilizing the concepts we were learning.
It is due to the creativity of these teachers that in the coming week I would like to find quirky ways to discuss math and science topics. Check back on Monday!
Are you left brain or right brain dominant? People attempt to categorize each other into neat categories. Left brain people are considered to be more logical and objective while right brain people are considered to be more creative and artistic. This leads people to assume that those who perform best in science or mathematics are left brain dominant. However, recent research has shown that those who are mathematically gifted have brains that are better able to communicate between hemispheres .
Logic is defined by using a set of principles to interpret or justify a condition. Creativity is defined as the use of imagination or original thought to create. Math and science are rooted in theories and proofs. However, those theories and proofs were not always printed in your text book. It took someone thinking about problems and asking questions in a new way that led to discoveries. Creativity is not limited to new ideas but is helpful to look at problems in new ways.
Recently, after painting a TV stand I was putting the doors back on. I was having trouble figuring out what direction the hinges needed to go. My mother-in-law saw my struggle and showed me how to do it. Her time spent sewing had given her a lot of opportunities to understand how pieces fit together. She took the problem and viewed it in a new way. One may not relate sewing to math and science but both require visualizing problems. She took concepts learned in a different setting and applied them in a new way.
You can do the same when you encounter problems, whether on paper or in life. When you run across a new problem find new ways to look at it.
 Singh, Harnam. O' Boyle, Michael W. "Interhemispheric Interaction During Global-Local Processing in Mathematically Gifted Adolescents, Average-Ability Youth, and College Students." Neurophysiology. 2004. Volume 18. Number 2. Pages 371 - 377.
As the end of summer and the beginning of the school year looms around the corner there are a mix of emotions. The freedom of summer lies in stark contrast to what seems to be the prison of a classroom. Why do we think of the classroom as a prison? It is a place where new ideas are brought forth everyday.
Ideas and concepts can change the world. As John Green discusses in his TedTalk, "The Nerd's Guide to Learning Everything Online," a small town was created because of a paper town placed on a map to help map makers detect copyright frauds. He goes on to talk about how he used to dislike learning until he found a community of learners that enjoyed discovering something new. He explains that they pulled him out of his sense of "school is lame" because they were a group of people "[...] who thought that my ironic, oh-so-cool disengagement wasn't clever or funny, but [...] was a simple and unspectacular response to very complicated and compelling problems" .
Learning doesn't have to be boring or uncool. It does seem useless to sit in a classroom to be taught information you "won't use in the real life," but that uselessness is on you. It is your decision to take what you are being taught and apply it. Use what's left of your summer to get geared up to learn. You never know what idea you will uncover that could change your world.
There are two scenarios when one looks back on their high school experience: you either loved or hated math class. Many people will extrapolate from there and say, "I hated math class. I wasn't any good at it, I just don't think that way." People don't really argue with this thought. It almost seems logical. Who hasn't struggled with a math concept over the course of their educational career?
We use math every day. When you are trying to determine if a sale is worthwhile, spacing pictures equally on the wall, or calculating how much longer a trip will last if you are going the speed limit. Now the question becomes, did your distaste for math stop you from figuring those problems out? No. What will keep you from figuring out those problems is your level of math proficiency.
Proficiency is tied to practice, not enjoyment. You become better when you practice. Want to hit a baseball? Practice. When you first started to practice hitting a ball there was a lot of failure. Failure isn't fun. This is where the final piece of the puzzle pops into place. Your desire to learn created persistence. It's that persistence that made you practice even when you hated it.
You use math every day. It's important to have adequate skills so that you can navigate the math problems of every day life. Like when learning to hit a baseball, it is helpful when you have a coach that already knows how to hit a baseball. Same goes for math. If you are having trouble it can help to work with a tutor and keep practicing.