Making mathematics real for kids : Fizzics Education

# Making mathematics real for kids

“When am I EVER going to use this?!?”

How often have you heard students exclaim this to you about mathematics? I’d hazard a guess that it’s been more than once. The trouble with mathematics is that for many students, moving numbers around on a page are just too far removed from their everyday experiences. The challenge for us as educators is to make maths more meaningful, without losing the problem-solving rigour. Recently we worked with Inspiring the Future Australia to present a series of online webinars on maths and careers for over 1000 of students across Australia. Supported by Amazon Web Services, these interactive live sessions were designed to help students connect the concepts they learn in the classroom to real-world applications and future opportunities.

You can also use the materials lists on this link to try the activities on the following recordings.

It was so much fun! From tower building to creating square wheel cars, students were able to apply mathematical ideas to a variety of engineering problems. We also had a bit of fun showing how spurious correlations can be made between data sets (seriously, do you really think that beef consumption is linked with lightning strikes?). We also looked at how mathematics can be used to determine population sizes in animals (we used jelly babies), how we can analyse performance data to find the most valuable players in sports teams and even compared speeds of different animals vs. their leg bone lengths to produce estimations of the speed of Australian dinosaurs.

Whilst it was fun to look at the applications of working mathematically to various challenges, it was very valuable for students to meet people working in STEM careers too. It was clear through live polling that students had not previously thought about how maths could be used in diverse occupations.

So making connections to maths in mind, here are some extra maths lesson ideas to keep your students inspired. Plus, the following podcasts will help you think about extra ways for teaching maths to kids of all ages;

If you’d like to go further, we’ve been running a Working Mathematically school visit which helps kids see mathematics in use for real-world applications.

Happy teaching,

Ben Newsome