Math in the News is exactly what it sounds like—a website, with related weekly newsletter—that uses math to explore issues in the news. Produced by Media4Math, Math in the News activities range from probability maps predicting landfall for Hurricane Sandy to an exploration of pumpkin costs per hundredweight or the statistics of the presidential election.
Just go to the main page link above, and scroll down to see past explorations in slide or video form. I find the slides both easier to control and less odd, since I’m not getting sound when I play the videos. Perhaps you’ll discover something different. Math in the News is also available as an iPad app.
Math in the News is a fine resource for math activities, but it is even better as potential inspiration for students to create and solve problems related to news in your area. You might present a chart, table, or article with mathematical content and challenge students to devise (and solve) problems to be presented to their peers. Or think about the power in assigning a section of your local paper (be it hard copy or online) and challenging students to find mathematical questions there. They may find math in places they never thought to look. (Is there a correlation between movie ratings and average attendance, or number of showings opening week? What is the average rain/snowfall during this week? Has it changed in the last 10 years?)
If you’d like more examples of math-related news to inspire you, explore The New York Times’ math news inventory, Science Daily’s math news, or the math section of Science News for Kids. You won’t find ready-made math dilemmas as in Math in the News, but there is plenty to amaze you. Who knew that birds may fly in fractal-like patterns?
Where is math in the news in your area? We’d love to hear about it.