The mathematical skills of problem solving, logical thinking, and investigation will help your progress in whatever you choose to study. In addition to these general skills, you will need maths for learning in a wide range of areas – anything from plumbing to economics.
Training as a plumber can lead to a lucrative and fulfilling career, and an understanding of maths is essential. Aspiring plumbers must learn how to calculate pipe lengths and manipulate equations for heating and ventilation, so without mathematical skills you won’t get far!
Engineering courses of all types use maths. If you study civil engineering, you will calculate the forces affecting bridges and buildings to make sure they stay standing. Or perhaps you’d prefer aeronautical engineering, using differential equations to design aircraft. Whatever branch you study, maths is at the heart of the engineer’s toolkit.
As a medical student, you take courses in statistics so you can critically interpret data, such as the results of medical trials. Without these skills, doctors can’t judge the reliability of tests and assess the risks of treatments. Maths is also used in medical research, and assists in modelling diseases, interpreting medical scans, and planning treatments.
To qualify as a nurse you must be able to demonstrate a high level of numeracy. When it comes to measuring and administering treatments, knowing how to accurately manipulate numbers and calculate volumes could save lives.
Maths even crops up in science that takes place outside the lab – eg archaeology. Although you might spend most of your time in the field, archaeologists use maths to analyse data from their surveys and to distinguish patterns of past human behaviour.
Studying economics requires you to handle data and work with figures. You also need to understand economic equations and use maths to calculate things like compound interest. The problems of the credit crunch in 2008 were partly caused by people who didn’t understand the maths of economics!
These are just some of the areas that maths can help you study. And of course, if you want to go on to study the subject of mathematics itself, all the work you have done so far will be put to good use.
Thinking Mathematics (James Tanton’s YouTube channel)
Thinking Mathematics is an uncluttered and joyous approach to school mathematics … middle school, high school and beyond!