Math at Work: Careers Teacher s Guide


 Jocelyn Patrick
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1 Teacher s Guide Grade Level: 9 12 Curriculum Focus: Math Lesson Duration: 2 3 class periods Program Description Math at Work: Careers From architecture and artistry to skateboarding and soccer, take students behind the scenes to explore how math is fundamental to our daily lives. Lesson Plan Student Objectives Describe how math skills are used in different careers. Identify math skills used in a career of their choice. Materials Math at Work: Careers video Writing paper Pencils and erasers Computer with Internet access (optional) Reference books, pamphlets, or magazines with information about different careers and their educational requirements (these can be found in a school or local career counseling office) Procedures 1. Watch Math at Work with your class to introduce the idea that math skills are needed in many careers. Discuss the different careers that were highlighted. In what ways did the people in the video use math in their work? What math skills did each career require? 2. Tell students that they will research a career and the math skills it requires. They may choose one of the careers highlighted in the video or a different career that interests them. They should use books, informational magazines, or the Internet to research the math requirements in their chosen career. In addition, they must interview a friend, family member, or member of the community associated with their chosen career and ask questions about the math requirements. Possible interview questions include: What math skills do you use at work?
2 Teacher s Guide 2 How do you use math in your line of work? Do you think a person can be successful in this career without solid math skills? What math classes did you take in high school or college to prepare for this career? What suggestions regarding math can you give to somebody interested in pursuing this career? 3. Tell students that they will present their research in a fiveminute oral report. The reports must include information about the following: The career they chose to research. Why they chose this career. The person they interviewed and their association with this career. The educational requirements for this career. The math skills used and what they are used for. How the information has affected their desire to pursue this career. 4. Give students time to research in class and as a homework assignment. If they have trouble identifying a person to interview, help them use the Internet, phone book, or school connections to find a community member to speak with. To find educational requirements and information about a particular field on the Internet, search using the phrase educational requirements for (biologists, musicians, etc.). 5. Have students present their research in a fiveminute report. 6. After all reports have been given, discuss the different careers and their uses of mathematics. Who was surprised by the math skills needed in the career they researched? How did these reports affect your thoughts and feelings about math? Who is now interested in a different career path based on the information they have learned? Assessment Use the following threepoint rubric to evaluate students' work during this lesson. 3 points: Students clearly described the math skills required in several different careers and what they are used for; clearly put a great deal of time and effort into researching the chosen career and its math requirements; successfully conducted an interview with a person associated with the chosen career; presented a wellorganized, thoughtful fiveminute presentation, including all of the required information. 2 points: Students described the math skills required in at least two different careers and what they are used for; clearly put a reasonable amount of time and effort into researching the chosen career and its math requirements; somewhat successfully conducted an interview with a person associated with the chosen career; presented a somewhat wellorganized and thoughtful threeminute presentation, including some of the required information.
3 Teacher s Guide 3 Vocabulary 1 point: Students described the math skills required in one or fewer different careers and what they are used for; spent little or no time, thought and effort in researching the chosen career and its math requirements; did not conduct an interview with a person associated with the chosen career; presented an unfinished and unclear presentation that included little or none of the required information. algorithm Definition: a stepbystep procedure for solving a problem, usually involving repetition of an operation Context: A grocery list is an example of an algorithm. data Definition: factual information organized for analysis or used to reason or make decisions; numerical or other information represented in a form suitable for processing by computer Context: The meteorologist analyzed the data collected from the weather balloons. equation Definition: a statement of the equality or equivalence of mathematical or logical expressions Context: Writing computer code is like writing a math equation. geometry Definition: the mathematics of the properties, measurement, and relationships of points, lines, angles, surfaces, and solids Context: Geometry is very important in a lot of sports, like soccer. graph Definition: a diagram that exhibits a relationship, often functional, between two sets of numbers as a set of points having coordinates determined by the relationship; a pictorial device, such as a pie chart or bar graph, used to illustrate quantitative relationships Context: The graph shows data collected from weather balloons. measurement Definition: the act or process of ascertaining dimensions, quantity, or capacity Context: Taking an accurate measurement is critical in paleontology. Academic Standards Midcontinent Research for Education and Learning (McREL) McREL s Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K12 Education addresses 14 content areas. To view the standards and benchmarks, visit
4 Teacher s Guide 4 This lesson plan addresses the following national standards: Math Understands the general nature and uses of mathematics Technology Knows the characteristics and uses of computer software programs; Understands the relationships among science, technology, society, and the individual; Understands the nature and uses of different forms of technology National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) has developed national standards to provide guidelines for teaching mathematics. To view the standards online, go to This lesson plan addresses the following math standards: Numbers and Operations Understands meaning of operations and how they relate to one another Algebra Understand patterns, relations, and functions Geometry Use visualization, spatial reasoning, and geometric modeling to solve problems Measurement Understand measurable attributes of objects and the units, systems, and processes of measurement Data Analysis and Probability Understand and apply basic concepts of probability Connections Recognize and use connections among mathematical ideas; Understand how mathematical ideas interconnect and build on one another to produce a coherent whole; Recognize and apply mathematical connections in contexts outside of mathematics Support Materials Develop custom worksheets, educational puzzles, online quizzes, and more with the free teaching tools offered on the Discoveryschool.com Web site. Create and print support materials, or save them to a Custom Classroom account for future use. To learn more, visit DVD Content This program is available in an interactive DVD format. The following information and activities are specific to the DVD version. How To Use the DVD The DVD starting screen has the following options: Play Video This plays the video from start to finish. There are no programmed stops, except by using a remote control. With a computer, depending on the particular software player, a pause button is included with the other video controls.
5 Teacher s Guide 5 Video Index Here the video is divided into nine parts (see below), indicated by video thumbnail icons. Watching all parts in sequence is similar to watching the video from start to finish. Brief descriptions and total running times are noted for each part. To play a particular segment, press Enter on the remote for TV playback; on a computer, click once to highlight a thumbnail and read the accompanying text description and click again to start the video. Standards Link Selecting this option displays a single screen that lists the national academic standards the video addresses. Teacher Resources This screen gives the technical support number and Web site address. Video Index I. Math and Meteorology (8 min.) Explore how meteorologists use calculus, geometry, and even basic math skills to recognize patterns and forecast the weather. Q: Do you think it is difficult to accurately forecast weather? Why? Q: How do meteorologists use math? A: Weather balloons collect data that computers use to make graphs and plot temperatures. Meteorologists interpret the data and graphs and compare the numbers and identify patterns to forecast weather. II. Paleontology and Measurement (8 min.) Discover why it is important that paleontologists have very good measurement skills. Q: What do you know about paleontology? Q: Why is it critical that paleontologists measure accurately? A: Taking accurate measurement is critical when paleontologists are estimating or taking indirect measurements. If they are off by even 10 centimeters when measuring a dinosaur femur they could end up with a weight estimate that is too big or too small. The minimal 10centimeter difference is greatly magnified in indirect equations used to calculate other measurements, such as how fast the animal moved, how much it weighed, and its age. III. Building a Skatepark (5 min.) See how math and science are necessary to design and build a skatepark. Q: Have you ever been to a skatepark?
6 Teacher s Guide 6 Q: What math and physics concepts were used to design and build the skatepark? A: Acceleration, gravity, friction, and geometry were concepts applied to building the skatepark. To design the park, the team built scale models using spheres, cylinders, and other geometric shapes. They also used trigonometry and algebra during construction. Algebraic formulas helped calculate the amount concrete and other materials needed. And they used basic measurement and averages to determine the placement of tires. IV. Math in Soccer (5 min.) Learn about the connections between geometry, statistics, and soccer. Q: What math skills do you use in your favorite game or sport? Q: What are some other sports that use geometry and statistics? V. Fractionalized Music (5 min.) Discover why it is important to understand fractions and have a good sense of rhythm if you want to be a musician. Q: What math skills are used in music? Q: How are fractions used in music? A: Musical notes are set to particular fractions: whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, eighth notes, and beyond. Quarter notes are onefourth the length of a whole note, eighth notes are oneeighth the length a whole note, and so on. VI. Soaring in Sailplanes (8 min.) Investigate how sailplane pilots use mathematics to determine a flight plan, estimate plane performance, and track weather. Q: What math skills do sailplane pilots use? Q: What is the glide ratio of a sailplane and why is it important? A: The glide ratio of a sailplane is a graph measuring how much altitude the plane gives up for every foot forward motion. It is important to read the ratio and calculate distance the sailplane will be able to travel.
7 Teacher s Guide 7 VII. Rescuing Animals With Math Skills (9 min.) See how wildlife rescue workers use math to rehabilitate animals and track movement and population trends to protect animals in the wild. Q: What are the responsibilities of wildlife rescue workers? Q: How do wildlife rescue workers use math? A: Wildlife rescue workers use math is to take weight and other measurements of animals in rehabilitation to monitor growth rate and determine age. They also weigh food and calculate the number of calories each animal receives. Workers use calculations to figure out the proper dosages of medication and vitamins, and they use calculations to monitor and track released animals. VIII. Creating Video Games (7 min.) See how designers and programmers use algorithms and computer code to create video games. Q: What aspect of video game design do you think would be the most difficult? Why? Q: What is computer code, and how do video game programmers use it? A: Computer code is a series of algorithms used as a set of instructions to solve a problem. Each video game is made up of thousands of lines of computer code. Writing code is like writing math equations with variables for different numbers. If programmers write their code well, a game will work correctly. IX. Architecture, Design, and Mathematics (7 min.) Explore how architectural design connects people, cultures, and mathematics. Q: What are some interesting buildings or structures in your community? Q: Could architecture exist without mathematics? Why?
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