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
Right Place, Wrong Time by Murray F. Spiegel
It's important to check the results from an experiment. Does the result make sense? Does it follow from other facts that are known? From the standpoint of teaching High School science, checking if one's results are sensible adds an additional layer of safety that the results are correct. (From the standpoint of advancements in Science, a basic research tenet is that results must be repeatable and not just a fluke. Professional scientists were occasionally discredited when their data can't be replicated; usually, they have made some blunder, but in rare instances, it turns out some aspects of their data has been faked.) The following story can be used to teach that results must be checked against known facts to see if they're reasonable. It is designed to be a follow up to the PUMAS example “The Fall of the Ruler.” Some of the background information in that example is repeated here for ease of understanding.
(view this example)
We are always looking for neat examples of Practical Uses of Math And Science.