Math and Science: Do What You Love

Math and Science is cool! Or so I hope this is the message that Hadley Elementary School students walked away with after hearing my half hour talk on this year’s Math Day.

Walking in to the school cafeteria to the music blaring and very cool ‘OK Go’s This Too Shall Pass’ on the big screen immediately captured and engaged their attention. “How do you think Math and Science might have been used in the making of that video?” I asked after the video. Delivered to three different age brackets (Kindergarden through 2nd, 3rd/4th, and 5th/6th), it didn’t matter the age … students immediately honed in the complex task these artists had of planning and coordinating lots of things, from music to angles to how different objects weight and volume had to be taken into consideration. Takeaway: Even if you’re an artist, musician, or writer, math and science is fundamental to your success.

The study of math can lead kids to pursue very cool futures and that the real trick was finding out what they loved to do… what they were passionate about. “Why should you ‘do what you love’?” I asked. “Because if you don’t, you’ll quit it,” answered one 6th grader. So, I went on to present examples of people who studied math or were part of math clubs/programs that went on to pursue very cool professions (found through searches on LinkedIn). One important point made before we jumped in was that the types of jobs that will be available to them when they graduate from High School or College are VERY different from those that were available to their parents or grandparents. If they wanted to pursue the coolest of these careers, they MUST focus on math and science today.

We started with the beloved Apple iPhone, a universally favorite high tech gadget. We then took a deep-dive look at movies we love and discussed animation at Pixar. I took this opportunity to show them how the bar charts they might study now lead to XY graphs, then study of the 3-dimensional plane (XYZ), then calculus which can lead them to a future in animation or the creation of video games. Takeaway: Even though today’s math may seem hard, it is vital that they master it in order to have the most career choices and pursue the coolest of professions.

We discussed people who studied math and went on to pursue jobs at Google, ESPN, ABC Family and Disney. We talked about Micheal Jordan as a math major who pursued a career in sports and is also an exceptional businessman. Finally, I highlighted three female inventors: the inventor of Barbie Dolls who founded toy giant Mattel, the inventor of the Chocolate Chip Cookie who went on to license her recipe to Nestle’s Toll House Cooke (so they could print in on every package of chocolate chips sold) and the inventor of the Kevlar bullet-proof vest sold by Dupont.

I closed by telling them my story. I use my math major to help students and faculty in colleges across America bring their inventions and innovations to market. I also told them that I wasn’t always good at math… in fact, I got C’s until sophomore year in high school. I didn’t believe I was good at math until I found the right teacher, after which it all clicked. Once I had the confidence of realizing that I could work hard, focus and figure it out… I knew I could do any kind of math.

I encourage anyone who reads this to download the presentation, make it yours and go present to your local elementary school, junior high or high school. Today’s girls and boys need to hear these messages and it’s in your power to make it happen. Let me know how it works out.


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