One of the most common questions math teachers hear from their students is, “why does this matter?” They are constantly trying to convince students that math is useful and could help them in their everyday lives. But it can be a tough sell. Word problems alone often feel contrived and students see right through them.
Thomas Petra has taught math at every level for more than 20 years and encountered dubious students at every grade level. That’s why he developed Real World Math, a free website with lessons based on Google Earth aimed at grades 5 – 10. “I was trying to show them actual applications of the math ideas that they see in the textbook,” Petra said.