It’s a familiar picture: A middle school student stares absently at his dog-eared algebra textbook, trying to force his way through the evening’s set of quadratic equations. As he chews on his pen cap, searching for the intersection of parabolas, he wonders aloud "Why do I have to do this – I’m never going to use these things in real life!"
The Futures Channel has recognized the disconnect that some kids have with potentially vague mathematical and scientific concepts and have decided to do something about it. They have developed a library of short, 2-5 minute videos that establish real-world context that make math and science meaningful to kids
Educators are the main target for The Future Channel’s video library – including both the traditional school system and home school programs – but the content can be accessed by anyone with an interest in learning more about using math and science in the real world.
The Future Channel’s Web site features more than 100 educational and entertaining mini-documentaries covering everything from making stronger skateboard decks to the importance of indicator species in our environment … or their latest piece on building performance bicycle wheels. The videos not only show how interesting products are made, but also illustrate how important math and science are for some really cool jobs like Custom Guitar Fabricator or Toy Inventor, and other opportunities that students may have never known existed.
Nearly every video comes with associated exercises and resources that teachers can use to augment their lesson plans. The supplemental resources cover grades 2 through 12 and many videos provide worksheets that apply to a variety of education levels.
Some of the videos are a little dated – The Futures Channel has been assembling their library since 1999 – but the information is still as pertinent today as it was 10 years ago, showing how math and science affect all of us – even the kid chewing on his pen cap and wondering exactly why algebra is important.