I listened to Dan Meyer’s NCTM video with great interest as he talked about motivational strategies that don’t work. It was refreshing to see him call out the idea of including horrible career-related problems that permanently turn students off to those particular careers. I think of the awful fossil decay problems. Since my “niche” is to connect Algebra with STEM career-related thinking, I had to ask the question:
Getting a personal response from Dan Meyer was thrilling; and beyond that, I got a vote of confidence from Boeing: a classroom set of Chromebooks and accessories. The interesting STEM-related activities I have included in my blog directly point to STEM careers. However, the connections I make on a daily basis more effectively drive the point: math we learn in school does relate to thinking used in tons of new and emerging careers. In class, I connect the kinds of thinking we are doing with particular STEM jobs. The interest is soaring within my walls with my previously disaffected students. I anticipate my formal study will show there is a moderately strong relationship between understanding the long-term usefulness of Algebraic thinking in the workplace and an increased willingness for students to consider STEM majors. With this increase, I am also anticipating the surveys to show improved student attitudes toward math in terms of confidence and willingness to work over the course of a few months. There is more to come on STEM-career, mathematical thinking in future blogs.