Despite the increasing importance of mathematics to the progression of our economy and society, enrollment in mathematics programs has been declining at all levels of the American education system. Yet, the application of mathematics is indispensable in such fields as medicine, computer science, space exploration, the skilled trades, business, defense, and government.
However, mathematics has a much broader expansion that in these specialized fields. Mathematics at one level or another can be applied, and many time defines, every possible happening in life.
Each year the American Mathematic Society selects a national theme that relates to the act of increasing awareness and appreciation of mathematics. The theme is selected and themes materials are developed and distributed so that each spring summaries and results about each years’ activities can be collected.
This month of awareness began in 1986 when President Ronald Reagan proclaimed a national mathematics awareness week. In 1999, mathematic week came to encompass a broader specialization and mission. This was, as stated on the American Mathematics Society website concerning mathematics Awareness Month:
“(The month is dedicated to) provide a general purpose of consistently increase the visibility of mathematics as a field of sturdy and to communicate the power and intrigue in mathematics to a larger audience.”
This visibility of the importance of mathematics is apparent at Pierce College, particularly through a class titled Math 107. Math 107, Math in Society, was designed to give students a greater understanding of the importance mathematics plays in everyday life, as well as its presence in such daily activities.
Math professor Larry Wiseman offers the course hopes that students will,
“…gain a greater sense of the scope and variety of mathematical ideas as well as a deeper appreciation of the human dimension of mathematics—the fact that all the math any of us ever learn or use is something that has been created or discovered by people, and that many people, over millennia, have dedicated great effort to developing mathematics produces this appreciation.” said Wiseman.
This greater understanding of the importance of mathematics can be applied to the Mathematics appreciation month. This year’s focus is on the use of mathematics to provide sustainable living. As humanity continually faces the task of how to balance human needs against the world’s resources while operating within the constraints imposed by the laws of nature.
Mathematics helps us better understand these complex issues and it is used by mathematician and the practitioner in a wide range of fields to seek creative solutions of a sustainable way of life.
For this to occur societies and individuals will need to make challenging choices; mathematics provides us with tools to make informed decisions.
“The motivation for this effort almost always includes a strong desire to have better understanding. Gaining greater understanding can have practical consequences in life, enabling one to do something one could not otherwise do, but it also can be fulfilling in and of itself,” Wiseman said. “The motivation to develop mathematics also often includes a sense of beauty and a spirit of fun. For many mathematicians, it is a very emotional experience”
An emotional experience that can be appreciated by all, is the view the world through the eyes of a mathematician, or at least be aware of the great importance mathematics plays in the entity of what is the world.
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