PUMAS (poo' • mas) -- is a collection of brief examples showing how math and science topics taught in K-12 classes can be used in interesting settings, including every day life.
The examples are written primarily by scientists, engineers, and other content experts having practical experience with the material. They are aimed mainly at classroom teachers, and are available to all interested parties via the PUMAS web site.
Our goal is to capture, for the benefit of pre-college education, the flavor of the vast experience that working scientists have with interesting and practical uses of math and science.
- Ralph Kahn
Pumas Editor and Founder
Spoon Mirror by Ralph Kahn
The main point of this example is about "observing," one of the most valued skills in science. Observation is usually emphasized beginning in the Upper Elementary grades. But it is often easier to observe than to explain. "How curved mirrors actually work" is sometimes covered in High School physics. The principles are also discussed in most encyclopedias, under "Mirrors" or "Optics," and are mentioned with respect to lighthouses, telescopes, and amusement park activities. (One benefit of making observations, or even memorizing “facts,” for which you have no deeper understanding at the time, is that sometimes, perhaps many years later, you may suddenly realize what they mean or why they are important.)
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We are always looking for neat examples of Practical Uses of Math And Science.