Math in Life, Nature, & Work

The final lesson in Jo Boaler’s “How to Learn Math (for Students)”.

Math is all about finding patterns.  One of the most famous patterns was discovered by Fibonacci.  He found that if we start with 1, 1, and then add the two previous numbers, we get a pattern that looks like this: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21,…. If this pattern is drawn as squares, it creates a spiral that is found in art and nature.

Snowflakes have a pattern, too.  Even though every snowflake is different, every snowflake has something in common: they all have six points.  This is because water freezes in a hexagon, so snowflakes are also hexagonal.

Animals intuitively use math.  Take the spider:  its web is created using a logarithmic pattern to stabilize it, and then the spider completes the web using an arithmetic pattern.  It would take an engineer quite a while to figure that out, but a spider does it intuitively. Dolphins use math, too.  They use it to echolocate.

Athletes use math intuitively as well. And dancers are extremely good at using physics and math to create complex patterns. Jugglers use tons of math!

The work world uses amazing amounts of math.  It’s not about being fast (we have computers for that) but problem solving and thinking about numbers creatively. Math in the real world is hands on and collaborative.

The modern world gives us math games that are really fun.  Here are some of Jo’s favorites: Wuzzit Trouble, Motion Math, DragonBox, and Mathbreakers.

I really loved this course.  I’m going to save up the $125 to take her teacher-focused class.

The world is mathematical!


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