Make it Real: Connecting Math to Life
Lesson Objective: Engage in mathematics through real-world scenarios
All Grades / Math / Engagement

Thought starters

  1. What can you learn from Ms. Brookins and Mr. James about linking math to stories?
  2. How do real-world scenarios increase engagement and retention of concepts?
  3. Why is it important to give students a chance to apply their learning?
Awesome job, Peggy and Raymond. Although I was a top math student (99th percentile SAT Math), I barely recall any of it because there was no real-life application in class, only number crunching and formula memorization. I did not take physics and would have had I known it was applied math. Again, great job in making math relevant to your students.
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Totally agree with their points about how these experiences "hang on" in the brain. It's a great idea to use one long term project to incorporate several math skills over time.
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But in the real world, wouldn't you just fly the copter up until you could see the whole field? I like prediction and evaluation, and flying the copter is obviously fun. But the idea that this is where you would use math in real life is a stretch, and I think that undermines our credibility. I'd rather pitch this as using math to understand the results of our experiment. With that model, then we can generalize to any of the contexts - that's the power of math.
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Mr. Golden, This short video was taken from a class that is 110 minutes long, so what you are seeing is a brief summary. If you read the TLA, we did create this copter for Duke Energy. We also presented to their engineers, made adjustments, and are creating an improved version with autonomous features and GPS. You are correct, you could just fly the copter until you saw the whole field, but we are trying to teach students what to do and how to analyze situations in which simply trial and error is not possible. NASA could not have landed on Mars by simply flying over the terrain and finding a suitable landing spot. Students also needed to know if they were above FAA regulation height for a craft of this type. In real world, very seldom in any field does your boss give you a task that requires that you just use trial and error and waste valuable time and resources. Planning, quantitative literacy skills and proper calculations are essential. I don’t know what profession you are in, but in teaching, acquiring knowledge does not undermine our profession. That is the power of math.
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According to my view perspectives, students nowadays, however, should be converted from "traditional examination-oriented ones" to "flexible experimental-oriented" ones. It is a good idea to combine mathematics with true life by methods of true experimentings, since Common Core State Standards have set totally different benchmarks, targets, and purposes from those of No Child Left Behind Act, and is ready for preparing each American students competitive in a global environment. Students in this video clip do learn a lot by experimental methods. :-)
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  • Make it Real: Connecting Math to Life Transcript
    Peggy Burkins: This lesson is a pre-cal lesson dealing with trig functions.

    Make it Real: Connecting Math to Life Transcript
    Peggy Burkins: This lesson is a pre-cal lesson dealing with trig functions.
    Raymond James: And we'll be using quad-copters to represent that lesson.
    Raymond James: Football coaches come to us and they want to film the games from high above the football field. How high up should we be in order to visually get a good picture of what's going on during the game.
    Peggy Burkins: We started with a story and we learned a lot of this because we're thinking Math Train. The brain remembers stories in a way that they don't remember other things. So, if we have a scenario and there's story, and in that story, there's a problem, then it changes the brain in a way so the brain is going to remember forever. So that's what we created. So that kids can actually have this experience they'll never forget. And in the experience, we don't want to have them forget the mathematics of the experience as well. Knowing, this is how I'm going to use this. This is why I'm learning this. And this is how to apply anything I learn. And then be able to defend that.
    +++ 00:01:36;25 +++
    Student: So, we solve for B. Now we can use this to solve for all of ours. And then we just plug and chug, basically, and we got 89.7'.
    Raymond James: Give me a synopsis now.
    Student: That's how high we need to be from the center of the field to view the entire field.
    Peggy Burkins: We wanted to make it real. So, they ask the question all the time, and he talked about it in the lesson, "when am I ever gonna use this?" So, we wanted to make sure they knew exactly the purpose of the lesson.
    Raymond James: Math is real-life application. It's always real-life application. And we tend to forget that. We tend to get caught up in just number-crunching. And being able to do scenarios like this, where you're actually applying it, now it makes sense.
    Peggy Burkins: So, we're going to put our glasses on, we're going outside, and we're flying.
    Peggy Burkins: These can be as short as a charette - a three-hour strategy - in this case, this is five months long to create this drone. So you can imagine the amount of mathematics you can cover - in the five months - all related to something that the brain is going to remember forever because it's related to something that's real to them, something that's fun, and something that applies all the mathematics that they're learning for them to say, "I have to understand this, because I have to use it in order to complete this lesson that we've been given.
    Peggy Burkins: And this is the product, so, well done. Give yourselves a hand.
    +++ 00:03:13;23 +++

School Details

Forest High School
5000 Southeast Maricamp Road
Ocala FL 34480
Population: 2107

Data Provided By:



Peggy Brookins
Raymond James



All Grades / All Subjects / Tch Tools

Lesson Idea

Grades 9-12, All Subjects, Class Culture

Lesson Idea

Grades 9-12, ELA, Class Culture

Teaching Practice

All Grades / All Students / Class Culture