Bridging Math and the World

Initial Thoughts on Fellowship Experience

“Ms. Frantz, when am I ever going to use this in the real world?”

This is a common question that my students ask throughout our whimsical adventures. Unfortunately, I have found that my students do not always agree with my enthusiasm and whimsy in regards to the math topics at hand.  They often find the math difficult and they struggle to see the reason for learning a subject that can be abstract and challenging.  Undoubtedly, every student at some point in their mathematical career wonders, “when am I ever going to use this?”

I believe that the Kenan Fellows Program will aid in my quest to provide my students with a suitable answer to this question. as I stated in my custom thesis paper  Abstractly, I am able to research real world applications of the different topics within mathematics that I teach and show my students the different professions that utilize these applications.  However, I have found that this approach can only go so far in satisfying their quest for reason and purpose in learning mathematics.  The Kenan Fellows Program can provide me with firsthand experience that I can draw on when answering this inevitable question.  The opportunity to complete an internship in an industry setting, like Bayer Crop Science, will allow me to gain a perspective on how researchers are utilizing and drawing upon mathematical concepts taught in the high school classroom.  This experience will also provide me with an opportunity to embed these answers into my lessons.

I have been able to develop lessons that engage my students through activities that speak to the use of math outside of the classroom.  We’ve launched pumpkins to collect data on projectile motion and fit the data with a mathematical function. My classes have looked at current events such as the Ebola outbreak and modeled the spread of the disease. In striving to become a more effective teacher, I am always seeking new ideas that focus on the application of  mathematics.  The experience and knowledge gained through this program will be implemented into my lessons.  This way students can see the important role that mathematics play in life.  Having this understanding will give students a reason to persevere through many of the difficult topics in math. Lessons with an emphasis on relevant uses of the concepts will prepare my students to be workers in the 21st century and hopefully inspire them to be our future generation of inventors, leaders, and thinkers.

This opportunity will also allow me to collaborate with others who share the common vision of making education relevant, engaging, and effective.  It will expand my network of educators and professionals, whom I can exchange ideas with and lean on for support. I can share the lessons I have learned and developed with the teachers at my Professional Learning Team meetings and within my county at our county wide math meetings. Ultimately, the Kenan Fellows Program will provide me with experiences, resources, and a network of people that will aid in my quest to make math meaningful to my students.

More to come on my experience with Bayer Crop Science!

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