How a 'pop-up museum' is getting kids excited about math

Friday, July 18, 2014

We tend to think of math as a series of numbers and symbols on paper, often preceding a list of multiple-choice answers intentionally presented to confound you. But what if we could change the perception of math from being an enigma to being a part of our everyday lives? Math is everywhere around us, and it's beautiful.

Math imparts the perfect proportion of sweet to salty in your favorite foods and drives the unforgettable melody of the summer's most hummable tune. Math also defines the processes that convert the sun's rays into clean energy and drives the research behind new generations of life-saving medications. Math skills have become so fundamental to our 21st-century economy that the Department of Commerce expects jobs in science, technology and engineering and math (STEM) fields to grow by 17 percent between 2008 and 2018, compared to 9.8 percent for non-STEM occupations.

What's more, STEM skills are in demand in other fields. So much so that a significant proportion of graduates with STEM degrees go into careers in non-STEM fields. Even better, regardless of what field they go into, STEM degree holders earn more money, according to the department's report.

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