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!