I am convinced that the more often that a teacher uses real world applications with students, the less often a teacher will hear, "When am I going to use this?"
I work with upper elementary and middle school students. I have a project a month which has some kind of application of the mathematics my students study. This month we made kites. We had to take a template that was about 4 by 6 inches and enlarge it by some factor. We used either metric or customary measurement. Do you know how difficult it is to make a rectangle by hand? Anyway, we used ratios, fractions, decimals, had to estimate how much the kite cost from the cost of the materials, etc. The kids loved it. I also could evaluate metric literacy, decimal literacy, etc.
In April we are going to look in the want ads in the Washington Post or the New York Times and find a job. Based on information from our library about salaries, we will do our income tax. To make it simple, it will be as a single person without any deductions. This is our springbreak and job hunting was their homework assignment over the break.
In May we are going to design a scavenger hunt which that can be used with the other classes. A pair or trio will be assigned together to go through the school and school yard and look for mathematical things. For example, a rectangle that has an area of 36 sq in on a face. The location of a palindrone. There's all kinds of possibilities.
Mind you, these are activities that I designed for middle school students. However, there are secondary applications, also.
Just some thoughts. --
Math History Lives!
Karen Dee Michalowicz VQUEST Math Lead Teacher/Trainer Upper School Mathematics Chair Virginia Quality Education The Langley School in Sciences and Technology 1411 Balls Hill Rd, McLean, VA 22012 USA 703-356-1920(w) E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Fax: (703) 790-9712 --or-- KarenDM@aol.com