Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Making Math Relevant

It is hard to make some of the stuff we teach relevant to real life. For most topics, it is a real stretch, but I do my best every day. Here are a few examples:

The Value Meal At McDonalds: The whole idea of a value meal is that you are getting lots of food for your dollar. It is the same with a math problem that includes quite a few different topics. I always call those kind of problems my Value Meal Problems and tell the class if it wasn't for math, McDonalds would not have this product to sell.

Matching Outfits: The whole concept of clothes matching is mathematical. We can only combine like terms and do so by matching up the variables. Where would fashion be today without math?

The song--Make New Friends But Keep the Old, One is Silver and the Other Gold: We learn new concepts all the time but use our old concepts with them. There would be no friendships and music without mathematics.

Emerils's --Kick It Up a Notch--comes from making math problems slightly more challenging each step of the way. Where would he be without his trademark and could he have even thought of it without math?

The Lion King's Circle of Life: This one is too obvious. We all know about the circle of mathematics and how everything goes back to the beginning. This great hit could not have come to pass without mathematics.

The movie--My Big Fat Greek Wedding: The father kept saying everything came from Greece. We know that is not true--he was just stealing that line because everything comes from math.

The Red Carpet: We just rolled it out tonight as I introduced imaginary numbers to my night class. Nothing can be better than celebrating a brand new number.

OK, so maybe I am stretching just a little, but there is no way I can find to make a triangle congruence proof or i to the 1001 power relevant to the real life of my students. I'm not that good. I don't know anyone that is.


Anonymous said...


interesting... I will find every resource on the internet to find specific examples of how math is used. The vocabulary, etc.

math is a beautiful thing... unfortunately that is being lost in translation.

Pissedoffteacher said...

No argument there--I love math.

It is just when you are teaching students that are very low functioning it is hard to make some of the stuff we are forced to teach relevant.

When kids still take line segments and set them equal to 180 degrees, something is seriously wrong.

Believe me, I have found many of those examples you mention and I do use them, where applicable.