In S.T.E.M Careers

This week we highlight an occupation that flies real low on most people’s radar, a mathematician. You’re probably asking yourself, is a mathematician a real job? Yes it is and we’re going to open your eyes to the hidden talents of mathematicians.

What exactly is a mathematician?

A mathematician is someone who uses their knowledge of mathematics to solve mathematical problems as they relate to real world situations. Mathematicians are mathematical scientists who, with their specialized knowledge and professional methodology, approach many of the imposing problems presented in related scientific fields. With professional focus on a wide variety of problems, theoretical systems, and localized constructs, mathematicians work regularly in the study and formulation of mathematical models.
Many people are familiar with mathematicians and their work in academic environments but mathematicians are associated with other areas of our lives. Mathematicians make it possible to send secure emails and buy things online. They are essential to analyze data and design accurate models in fields as diverse as biology and finance.  Because of the prevalence of the computer at work and at play, mathematicians will continue to impact everyone in modern society.
We asked a local mathematician what they feel is the impact mathematicians have on the world around them. Here’s what Dr. Christine Andrews-Larson, Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education at Florida State University had to say on the topic:

“Mathematicians contribute to society in many other ways.  For example, through mathematical modeling, we can better understand brain development and functioning as Dr. Monica Hurdal of Florida State University does in her research.  Dr. Talea Mayo models hurricane storm surges in her work as a computational mathematician at the University of Central Florida.  Mathematicians can tackle social problems like gerrymandering as Dr. Moon Duchin of Tufts University does with her research on geometric group theory.  Importantly, the work of mathematicians often involves helping others understand and use mathematics to design tools and solve problems in areas such as engineering, science, music and art.  Many say you learn mathematics by doing mathematics; my research examines how students can learn mathematics through problem solving, as well as how mathematicians think about supporting students’ learning.”

There are over 35,800 individual members of the four leading professional mathematical sciences societies in the U.S; the AMS, the Association for Women in Mathematics, the Mathematical Association of America, and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics and in an effort to produce more mathematicians, offers a variety of kits that encourage interest in the field of math, including various kits which directly focus on real-world problem-based learning.

Below are a few of our various kits.

Camarhynchus Finch Kit                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Replicate a real-world field study by letting students measure, graph, and analyze the specimens of these to-scale Darwin’s finches to distinguish mathematically between the Large Ground Finch and Small Ground Finch! This kit contains fifteen data-based specimens of each of the following two species of finches found in the Galapagos Islands: Camarhynchus parvulus and Camarhynchus psittacula.

Moths Kit and Pencil Quadrant Kit                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           These two kits together make the perfect combination for investigating sampling methodology, the Hardy-Weinburg principle, and the biological effects of the Industrial Revolution – all within your math classroom!


Balancing Currency Kit                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Reinforce the understanding of the value of coins and currency with this innovative kit. Use specially-weighted coins on our balance to allow students to explore the value of combinations of coins and/or dollars.


Stacking Blocks Kit                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           The perfect building blocks of a strong foundation for understanding graphs, this kit can be used to reinforce mean, median, and mode while creating visual distributions in bar graphs and histograms. Or, create probability distributions with each set of blocks. Use two color block sets together to create double bar graphs and stacked histograms or to explore pattern recognition.


Mathematician is #4 on US News Top Stem Jobs 2017

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