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Showing how mathematics is relevant and interesting to encourage engagement

From Audio: Aerospace Engineering with Dr Marsha Tufft (#31)

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STEAM Powered
Duration: 02:33
STEAM Powered speaks with Dr Marsha Tufft, engineer, author, speaker, and problem-solver, on changing attitudes of children and their parents about the relevance of mathematics.
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STEAM Powered speaks with Dr Marsha Tufft, engineer, author, speaker, and problem-solver, on changing attitudes of children and their parents about the relevance of mathematics. Demonstrate its use and all the fascinating things you can do with it, and you can motivate them to learn it.
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Yeah. And so some of the things that I was learning are, you know, okay, so a lot of the kids, even at our local walnut Hills high school, which is a college prep high school, they figured most of those kids are going to be going into stem fields and they tried to start the discussion off with a softball question is like, so do you see yourself in a stem field and not one of the kids said yes, they all said no and it's like what? And it was like why? And it's like they lack confidence in their math skills. So it's like, okay, so my parents were proactive but kids aren't, I mean as a math teacher, I can understand if you don't see how engineers use math, how incredibly relevant it is. Like I've got equations, I can take a plastic knife here and I can predict the bending on this. If I turn it flat side here and put a finger down. You see how flexible it is, I have to do is turn on the end and it won't reflect well, simple algebra, I could calculate that and predict what the deflection is. So, you know, I call them math recipes, there's formula, I mean, but there's so much you can do with math to design and optimize Kids may think of, okay, build a boat, You build a physical model, but you can do a math model to size the boat and figure out how much weight it can carry. But I mean engineering is all about optimizing and modeling and doing as much as you can efficiently, and math is a huge part of that. And one of the things I learned from the technical education background is how important motivation is to learning, so that if kids are motivated, they're more likely to be successful and success builds motivation and there's two dimensions of motivation, perceived relevance. So is their use for this funky math that I'm doing, um how in the world I'm going to use it. And a lot of, a lot of parents are like, oh you're never gonna use algebra, you don't need that, Okay, so it's changing attitudes, um, and then believing that you can be successful, so setting them up for success. So some of these things that I learned, it's like, okay, if I could just show them the relevance, I can help them see the point of learning algebra and sticking it out and getting good at it and how cool it is. All the things you can do with it.
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