It’s time to celebrate math! April is Mathematics Awareness Month, held each year to increase the visibility of mathematics as a field of study and to communicate the power and intrigue in mathematics. This year’s theme is “The Future of Prediction,” focusing on the ways in which math and statistics play a role in providing planning data and driving innovation for the future.
Mathematics Awareness Month began in 1986 with a proclamation by President Ronald Reagan, who believed the application of math is indispensable in such fields as medicine, computer sciences, space exploration, the skilled trades, business, defense and government. Yet, despite the increasing importance of mathematics to the progress of our economy and society, enrollment in mathematics programs has been declining at all levels of the American educational system.
You can help the effort by creating some math excitement at your school!
Organize School Math Activities
During the month of April, your school can join others around the nation in hosting math-centric activities for the students or general public. Ideas include:
- Math fact trivia contests, held in spelling bee fashion
- Math scavenger hunts
- Guest math professors from local colleges
- Math fairs or exhibits
- Math Career Day, with speakers from the community
Check out these Envision blogs for more detailed ideas:
Find additional inspiration on the Mathalicious website and in this article by Education World.
The Math Forum Year Game
A great way to celebrate Math Month is to participate in Math Forum’s “year games.” Every year Math Forum hosts this game electronically for all interested students, mathematicians, scientists or engineers. The game is both fun and challenging.
Detailed game rules are posted on the Forum’s website, but teachers are encouraged to modify the rules as appropriate for your own classroom. If you wish to have your students’ solutions posted on the Forum’s website, follow their rules carefully. The game web page is intended for students in grades 3-12, with a general knowledge of mathematics.
The basic premise of the game is to use the digits in the year 2016, with the operations +, -, x, ÷, ^ (raised to a power), sqrt (square root), and ! (factorial), along with grouping symbols, to write expressions for the counting numbers 1 through 100. Teachers may print out worksheets for students to record their findings, or may print sheets of manipulatives for students to use.
The Forum (which also hosts a Student Center) started posting student solutions to the 2016 year game as of February 1. Posts will include student names, school names, and grades exactly as you enter them, but the Forum does not post email addresses.
The Math Forum’s motto is “People learning math together.” Check out their website for more teacher resources.
Math Drives Careers
The theme for last year’s Mathematics Awareness Month was “Math Drives Careers.” As technology advances, systems and methodologies become more complex, increasing the need for skilled mathematicians. In key economic sectors like medicine, manufacturing, materials, energy, biotech, IT, and even agriculture, math drives innovation, and innovation drives the demand for more mathematicians.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, math jobs are projected to grow 28% from 2014 to 2024, resulting in about 42,900 new jobs, as businesses and government agencies continue to emphasize the use of big data. As of May 2014, math occupations had a median annual wage of $80,270, significantly higher than the median annual wage for jobs in general.
Pursuing the study of math is a good way for your students to not only ensure themselves of a good job, but also to increase their potential to positively impact our nation’s economy and the lives of future generations.
Be on the look-out for next week’s blog post: “Interesting Careers in Math”
The Future of Prediction Poster
If you would like the 2016 Mathematics Awareness Month Poster for your classroom, you can order it for only $2.00. The poster diagrams a fascinating historical timeline of math-related predictions and inventions. Details for ordering are provided on the website.
Do you celebrate Mathematics Awareness Month at your school? Share your activity ideas in our Comments section.
Math Games for K-12
Math Scavenger Hunt
If I Had a Hammer: Spotlight on Experiential Math Lessons