## Mathematics in the Workplace

by Susan Handley, Environmental Protection Agency
*Issue:* What can be done to help to better understand
the role of mathematical thinking in future careers?

*Observation:* In my work with classroom teachers I find a definite
"math phobia." For example, in our observatonal environmental assessment
program, teachers are very reluctant to complete the formula for finding
latitude and longitude. The good news is that the students seem more
willing than the teachers.

As with the environment, mathematical concepts are more relevant when
infused into other topics and areas. Of course, there is a need for basic
skills, but each discipline uses mathematics in different processes.
Almost every discipline uses some form of mathematics; thus mathematics is
more relevant when taught as part of other disciplines.

Environmental work relies heavily on mathematics. We have engaged many
student in mathematics work through their interest in the environment.
For example, when conducting an environmental assessment, a student would
determine ratios, ascertain flow rates, take resource (e.g. water)
measurements, apply formulae and conduct species counts.

*Susan Handley is Coordinator of Environmental Education Programs
for Region 10 (Seattle) of the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency.*

*To add your voice to this discussion, e-mail comments, letters, and op-ed
articles to: *`extend@stolaf.edu` or click here
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*Last Update: *03/07/96