Current Events and Math

Watching the election returns last night made me think about all of the math we are learning in the last year.

Now that our elections include different kinds of votes that have different demographics associated with them (mail-in votes, early votes, same-day votes), the absolute numbers move all around as the votes are being counted and reported.

The networks are doing a pretty good job of trying to explain all of this math to us while it is happening and it is a real teaching/learning moment.

The same is true of the Covid pandemic. We are living in the midst of a disease that can expand exponentially. And we can see how lockdowns and other things (vaccines?) can change the viral coefficient of the spread. That is another teaching/learning moment.

There is nothing like using real-world examples and experiences to explain things that are not easy to understand. If I was teaching math right now, I would be using these events to teach complicated math concepts to my students.

I am not a teacher but my dad was. I will end with a story about him that I got via email last week. His passing has generated a lot of this sort of thing and my family and I appreciate it very much.

I recall the first day of class in Vector Mechanics.  The bell rang to signal the beginning  of class and the section marcher called us to attention.  MAJ Wilson did not appear through the door on cue.  All heads looked toward  the door.  Suddenly an arrow (with a suction cup) shot through the door and hit the board at the other end of the room.  As it vibrated against the wall MAJ Wilson entered the room with bow in hand and announced,  “That gentlemen was a vector.” 

Apparently that toy arrow was from my brother and my toy chest. My dad took it work to use something real to explain something a bit hard to understand. And it worked.

So as we all go through our days explaining things to our kids and colleagues, it is good to remember to leverage real world examples we all know and understand. They really work.

#life lessons