# Help needed from Math teachers

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by tracille, Feb 7, 2015.

1. ### tracilleRookie

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Feb 7, 2015

Hey all! Long time lurker first time poster.

So I'm currently getting my ca teacher credential in math. For one of my assignments I need to come up with a project that "someone who is a mathematician" would do, covers multiple state common core standards, and somehow could be shared outside of the class. Examples given in class for other content areas were a poetry slam or historian looking at films for inaccuracies. It could be for any secondary level of math but I'm leaning towards algebra or geometry since that's what I'm interested in teaching.

I'm just stuck on what a mathematician would do that would interest high school kids. Any suggestions?

3. ### GTB4GTCohort

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Feb 8, 2015

If you are interested in geometry, one hands on project that I have used is having the students build inclinometers (sp?) and then we go outside to measure the height of trees, light poles, buildings, etc. For the simple shapes we measure - i.e flag poles and some buildings we "shoot" - - we also calculate surface areas as if we were going to paint it.It teaches them application of simple trig, angles of elevation and depression, calculations of SA,etc. Students seem to enjoy this and it really connects the classroom teachings to real life applications.Hope this helps.

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Feb 8, 2015

5. ### tracilleRookie

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Feb 8, 2015

Love this idea! I'm not sure if it will work for my school assignment but I will definitely use it when I get into a classroom!

6. ### mmswmModerator

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Feb 9, 2015

What a mathematician does is attempt to solve as of yet unsolved problems through research. This generally gets us into extremely advanced, complex, and most importantly for this discussion, abstract, mathematics. I'd have a hard time coming up with a project that's doable by secondary students, even those taking AP calculus that would resemble what a mathematician does.

That said, there are several options here. First, you can go with something similar to the geometry project described above. That's not something that a mathematician would do, but it is something that people in math intensive fields such as land surveying and architecture would do. There are hundreds of possibilities in engineering and science to draw inspiration from.

Next you could go the statistics route. Working statisticians do, in fact, crunch numbers all day. You could come up with a project where students have to analyze data sets for whatever reason. You could go boring (think census data), or more real-life relevant, such as an actuarial based project (determine insurance rates based on statistical analysis of a person's cohort). That would require your hypothetical students to have some background in statistics and probability, and would actually make a good project for an AP statistics class.

Lastly, you could go the research mathematician route, but it would require some background teaching first. I once taught an honors Algebra I class for 8th graders. I did have a project that went over well with them. I spent about two weeks teaching a very watered down version of group theory (very early abstract algebra), working with only the real numbers under addition and multiplication. They were to work with the information they had in order to "discover", from an abstract point of view, why the order of operations is what it is. This leads to the beginnings of ring and field theory, by the way, and also led to quite a number of "ah-ha!" moments for things like why it's multiplication/division from left to right, and not multiplication first, then division, and little quirks like that. While these problems have actually been solved, the students get an insight into the research work a mathematician actually does.