Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.
Skip to main content


Thank you for your interest in the Practical Uses of Math And Science.

We scientists, and other content experts, can make an immense contribution to pre-college education. We know how the math and science topics taught in K-12 classrooms can actually be used. Teachers and students can share the benefits of our experience by working through the innovative examples we write. (The Contributors' process is aimed at scientists and other content experts having experience actually using the material in practical settings. But anyone may contribute examples to PUMAS. The Example review and selection procedure is the same for all submissions.)

Examples may be anecdotesactivitiesdemonstrationsdescriptions of "neat ideas"formal exercises, or puzzles. They may be written in any style that serves the material well.

Each example is peer-reviewed by at least one scientist with a relevant background, and at least one teacher at an appropriate grade level. Review criteria include: originalityaccuracy of content, clarity of presentation, and grade-level appropriateness. (You might wish to see the full set of questions on the Reviewers' Form.) I'd stress originality. Teachers already have textbooks with all the "standard" problems. For PUMAS, we aim to offer examples with the extra 'spark' that comes from having really used the material in some interesting way.

Once accepted, an example is a citable reference, in a refereed journal for pre-college science education, which you can include in your curriculum vita. (For example: Parkinson, C.L., "Ice Sheets and Sea Level Rise," 02_10_97_1, The PUMAS Collection,, 1997.)

When you are ready to submit an example, after reading the guidelines below, please turn to the Submission page. You must be logged in to see this page.

Creating PUMAS Examples

Pre-college classrooms are unfamiliar settings to many scientists. Here are a few suggestions that may help you tailor your contribution to the intended audience:

The point of your example should be simple, and should be distilled to its essence.

Remember that this may be new material for some users.

  • As teachers have many demands on their time, aim for as brief a write-up as possible, one-to-two pages if it can be done.
  • However, there is sometimes a trade-off between brevity and accessibility. Given the alternatives, teachers are more likely to use a longer example than one they are not sure they fully understand. As appropriate, explain key reasoning steps, and provide sample results, possibly at the end of the example if it involves several pages of additional material.
  • The example should be self-contained, though it can reference other sources for background material or extensions.
  • Identify one or two Curriculum Topic Benchmarks as the educational focus (the "lesson") of your Example.
  • Formulate the example so fewif anycaveats are needed to reach the main point.
  • Use parenthetical remarks sparingly.
  • If background material is important to the example, consider giving a brief overview in the example itself, and then mention textbook headings, encyclopedia topics, web search keywords, or even web sites where more details can be found.
  • On-line access is limited or unavailable in many classrooms. So, if an example requires on-line access, try to frame the example so it can be done either as (1) an in-class interactive activity for individual students or small groups, (2) an in-class interactive activity done by the class as a whole from a single projection facility, or (3) an off-line activity, where the teacher can generate the materials in advance, and progressively show the results to the class as the lesson unfolds.

Topics often recur at several grade levels. Target your example at students who have adequate math and reasoning skills:

Here are other suggestions that may help you develop your PUMAS Example:

  • Look at examples already in the PUMAS Collection, and any associated Comments/Lesson Plans from users.
  • Scan the PUMAS "Examples Wanted" bulletin board.
  • View the questions in the "Teachers' On-line Assessment of PUMAS".
  • Try your example out on a teacher or student.
  • Find a teacher or student at the appropriate grade level with whom to collaborate.

Preparing Your Example

Please prepare your example in one of the standard word processor Document Formats (Microsoft Word and Word Perfect are the most common). You will also need to select:

  1. One or more Curriculum Topic Benchmarks for your example.
  2. One or more Subject Keywords.

You can:

  • Write your example in any style that is comfortable for you, and serves the material well.
  • Organize it in any way you find effective.
  • Mention how your work or personal interests led to the example. 

Students and teachers are usually thrilled to hear ideas that were presented by working scientists. They will often work harder and learn more, provided the material is within their ability to grasp. So we are in a position to make a real difference.

To view the guided steps for the interactive submission process, please turn to the Submission page.

Subject Keywords

Each example is indexed by Subject Keywords, such as airplanes, gyroscopes, etc., as well as by Curriculum Topic Benchmarks.

An example may have several Subject Keywords, if appropriate. Compound keywords (such as "water sports") may contain spaces. If you are entering multiple keywords, please separate them with commas.

Contributors may select Subject Keywords that are not already in the Subject Keyword List.