Using Math to Understand the World Around Us

  • Academics
Maureen Mullen

A common question comes up regarding mathematics: “When would I ever use this in real life?” At Aspen Academy, we strive to support students with applying mathematics to life. Over the course of the past few weeks, Aspen Academy 7th and 8th Grade Algebra students are working applying their mathematics beyond the typical homework.

Over the past weeks, our Algebra students learned how standard deviation is calculated and how it relates to the bell curve and a "normal" distribution of data. The conversations ranged from polling data to grades. The classes then tested their knowledge by collecting data about their heights and they calculated measures of central tendency including, mean, median, mode, range, interquartile range, outlier potential, and standard deviation. They plotted their data and realized that, like most data, they were not normal! It was a fantastic lesson on data analysis that started more critical conversations around what may skew data. 

Last week, classes came together to analyze two variables - their height and age in months. Their hypothesis is that we will have positively correlated data that suggests that as age increases, height increases. 

Our mathematicians calculated the best line of fit both by hand and using their treasured TI-84s. Correlation coefficients were determined and analyzed. Residuals were plotted and evaluated and students with the closest line of fit celebrated.  

While standard deviation may not be a term used frequently in our daily lives, algebra and statistics are avenues for our students to think critically: something we leverage constantly in daily life. It's not just about memorizing formulas, it's about using math to understand the world around us. 


About the Author:

Maureen Mullen is a 7th & 8th Grade Instructor, Algebra & Geometry, Mathematics Co-Chair, Student Leadership & Entrepreneurship Coach at Aspen Academy.

Maureen began her career in corporate education working for MetLife and Visa. She transitioned to the K-8 setting ten years ago because she was ready for a new challenge that continues to bring her great satisfaction. Maureen holds a BA from Siena College, Teacher Licensure from Metropolitan State University, and a M.Ed. in from Concordia University.

Maureen loves math and middle school and she loves the relationships she develops with her students at Aspen Academy. In addition to spending time with her family, Maureen loves running, hiking and skiing.