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Real-World Examples Written by the Real-World!

PUMAS (pronounced "poo'-mas") is the acronym for Practical Uses of Mathematics and Science. And as an on-line resource, it becomes The On-Line Journal of Math and Science Examples for Pre-College Education. Either way, it is worth your consideration and some extended browsing.

Driven by Ralph Kahn, NASA, and others, the web site PUMAS was established to provide a collection of examples that illustrate how topics in mathematics and science classes (K-12) connect to real-world situations. The majority of the examples were written by professional scientists and software engineers who have real-life experiences with these topics.

The collection of examples (i.e. sources for lessons) are free to teachers for use in their classrooms, for both enrichment and primary learning experiences. As stated on the PUMAS website, its "goal is to capture, for the benefit of pre-college education, the flavor of the vast experience that working scientists have with interesting and practical uses of math and science." It will be up to you to judge...

The current PUMAS collection includes 73+ examples, in varied formats and useable condition. In some instances, the example stands alone and the creative teacher must determine how to use incorporate the example into a lesson. And, in some instances, the example is presented as part of a complete lesson plan.

The PUMAS site suggests teachers should browse the examples that connect with their areas of interest or need. Since the examples are provided in both pdf and WORD files, the teacher can then "adapt, recontextualize, and present the material to your students in a way that you (the teacher) judge will best meet your students' needs, abilities, and interests."

Each example includes a suggested Grade Level (e.g. 9-12), "standard" Curriculum Topic Benchmarks, and Subject Keywords (e.g. Probability, Exponents, Counter-intuitive result). Finally, the current list of examples can be sorted by benchmark area, grade level, or keywords.

Two additional aspects of the PUMAS website:

  • Since the primary authors of the examples are scientists and engineers, the website calls for (and depends on) the help of classroom teachers as reviewers, editors, and providers of lesson plans for the given examples
  • Also, the website openly requests that classroom teachers "ask" for particular types of example currently not in the PUMAS Collection...and even provide samples of how the requests can be made.
Happy PUMAS browsing....why not start with the example "Logarithms: Taking the Curve Out"?