Saturday, December 26, 2015

"When Will I Ever Use This?"

You know, the question that all students ask at some time but whose answer is not really known by most teachers other than the "You'll need it, trust me!" So I went looking for sites on how math is used in Forensics simply because I like the topic.

So with  all the crime shows like NCIS, Criminal Minds, and other analyst shows on television, students may actually be wondering what it takes to become a crime analyst.  So during my search I came across We Use Math.

This web site lists a large number of careers so students can see what type of education is needed and the minimal required mathematics courses for doing well within the career.  I started with a Forensic Analyst since I enjoy forensics.  According to the site,  you need College Algebra, Trigonometry, Geometry, Calculus 1 & 2, and Statistics to go into this field.  Furthermore, it gave examples of how math is used within the field and provided numerous links to further explore this field or any other field.

Next I checked out the math required to become a physician.  It requires most of those courses plus a couple more recommended courses but they also say it depends on the requirements of the medical school.  On the other hand, a carographer requires the same as forensic analysts with the added courses of elementary statistics and spatial statistics.

I love that each entry includes how the math is used within the career and provides links so students can do further researching. As for the rest of the site, the staff has included some really nice materials such as a blog that talks about things like crime rates, and the mathematics theory that can be used to predict the wrinkles are formed on a curved surface such as raisins or finger prints.

They even include a teacher resource section with all sorts of goodies.  Free resources, posters, and even Math Puzzles and Games.  This is a site I will send my students so they can explore careers and read up on what it takes to succeed in Math.  This site reinforces two things I stress.  First you have to do the math to get better at it, kind of like practicing your basketball till you get good at it.  Second, it is alright to make mistakes because you learn from your mistakes.

The other place I found is the Forensics Outreach site where the author took time to give several specific examples of how math is used during a forensics analysis.  I didn't realize that trig is used to help determine where the killer.  They use distances, angles and basically triangulate the killers location.

Another mathematical skill is calculating proportions so as to figure out the height, weight, etc from a bone segment found without the rest of the body.  That is soooo cool.  I learned a couple things while writing this.

So the next time a student asks "When will I ever use this?"  send them to either of these sites.

Note:  Due to no internet where I am staying, I won't publish again till Monday.