PUMAS (poo' • mas) -- is a collection of brief examples showing how math and science topics taught in K-12 classes can be used in interesting settings, including every day life.
The examples are written primarily by scientists, engineers, and other content experts having practical experience with the material. They are aimed mainly at classroom teachers, and are available to all interested parties via the PUMAS web site.
Our 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.
- Ralph Kahn
Pumas Editor and Founder
Why is Summer Hot? by Stephen J. Edberg
It is quite common for people to believe that summer is warmer than winter, basing the explanation on the belief that Earth is closer to the Sun during the summer than in the winter. Even a sizable fraction of Harvard graduates carry this belief (Schneps, 1987, mentioned in Green, 2003). In reality, this is exactly opposite the situation in the northern hemisphere. The separation of Earth and Sun is greatest at the beginning of July and least at the beginning of January. More direct sunlight and the greater duration of daytime in summer months makes summer warmer than winter. This activity, effective outdoors or indoors, will demonstrate how more direct sunlight leads to seasonal temperature variations. This activity demonstrates how insolation is affected by latitude by using a pair of thermometers, each taped to some cardboard, placed outside on a sunny day. A globe can also be used, outdoors or indoors.
(view this example)
We are always looking for neat examples of Practical Uses of Math And Science.