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Mathematics helps predict behavior of nature and phenomena in the world?

The body of knowledge and practice known as mathematics is derived from the contributions of
thinkers throughout the ages and across the globe. It gives us a way to understand patterns, to
quantify relationships, and to predict the future. Math helps us understand the world — and we use
the world to understand math.
Algebra can explain how quickly water becomes contaminated and how many people in a third-
world country drinking that water might become sickened on a yearly basis. A study of geometry
can explain the science behind architecture throughout the world. Statistics and probability can
estimate death tolls from earthquakes, conflicts and other calamities around the world. It can also
predict profits, how ideas spread, and how previously endangered animals might repopulate. Math
is a powerful tool for global understanding and communication. Using it, students can make sense
of the world and solve complex and real problems. Rethinking math in a global context offers
students a twist on the typical content that makes the math itself more applicable and meaningful
for students.

Math is often studied as a pure science, but is typically applied to other disciplines, extending well
beyond physics and engineering. For instance, studying exponential growth and decay (the rate at
which things grow and die) within the context of population growth, the spread of disease, or
water contamination, is meaningful. It not only gives students a real-world context in which to use
the math, but helps them understand global phenomena – they may hear about a disease spreading
in India, but can’t make the connection without understanding how fast something like cholera can
spread in a dense population. In fact, adding a study of growth and decay to lower level algebra –
it’s most often found in algebra II – may give more students a chance to study it in the global
context than if it’s reserved for the upper level math that not all students take.

In a similar vein, a study of statistics and probability is key to understanding many of the events of
the world, and is usually reserved for students at a higher level of math, if it gets any study in high
school at all. But many world events and phenomena are unpredictable and can only be described
using statistical models, so a globally focused math program needs to consider including statistics.
Probability and statistics can be used to estimate death tolls from natural disasters, such as
earthquakes and tsunamis; the amount of aid that might be necessary to help in the aftermath; and
the number people who would be displaced.

Understanding the world also means appreciating the contributions of other cultures. In algebra,
students could benefit from studying numbers systems that are rooted in other cultures, such the
Mayan and Babylonian systems, a base 20 and base 60 system, respectively. They gave us
elements that still work in current math systems, such as the 360 degrees in a circle, and the
division of the hour into 60 minute intervals, and including this type of content can help develop
an appreciation for the contributions other cultures have made to our understanding of math.

Understanding the world also means appreciating the contributions of other cultures. In algebra,
students could benefit from studying numbers systems that are rooted in other cultures, such the
Mayan and Babylonian systems, a base 20 and base 60 system, respectively. They gave us
elements that still work in current math systems, such as the 360 degrees in a circle, and the
division of the hour into 60 minute intervals, and including this type of content can help develop
an appreciation for the contributions other cultures have made to our understanding of math.

It’s important, though, to only include examples that are relevant to the math and help students
make sense of the world. In geometry, for example, Islamic tessellations – shapes arranged in an
artistic pattern – might be used as a context to develop, explore, teach and reinforce the important
geometric understandings of symmetry and transformations. Students might study the different
types of polygons that can be used to tessellate the plane (cover the space without any holes or
overlapping) and even how Islamic artists approached their art. Here, the content and the context
contribute to an understanding of the other.

If students are given the right content and context for a globally infused math curriculum, they’ll
be able to make global connections using math, and create a math model that reflects the
complexity and interrelatedness of global situations and events. They’ll be able to apply math
strategies to solve problems and develop and explain the use of a given math concept in the global
sense. And they’ll be able to use the right math tools in the right situations, explain why a math
model they chose is relevant. More importantly, students will be able to use data to draw
defensible conclusions, and use mathematical knowledge and skills to make real-life impact.

By the time a student graduates high school, he or she should be able to use mathematical tools
and procedures to explore problems and opportunities in the world, and use mathematical models
to make and defend conclusions and actions.

The examples here are just a sampling of how it could be done, and they can be used to launch
content-focused conversations for math teachers. These aren’t meant to be separate courses of
study, either, but overlapping and interrelated elements that schools will have to decide to use in
ways that meet their individual needs.

By the time a student graduates high school, he or she should be able to use mathematical tools
and procedures to explore problems and opportunities in the world, and use mathematical models
to make and defend conclusions and actions.

The examples here are just a sampling of how it could be done, and they can be used to launch
content-focused conversations for math teachers. These aren’t meant to be separate courses of
study, either, but overlapping and interrelated elements that schools will have to decide to use in
ways that meet their individual needs.

At the heart of any discussion on a global curriculum through math, it’s important to consider how
the math helps students make sense of the world, what in a student’s experience enables them to
use the math to make contributions to the global community, and what math content students need
to solve complex problems in a complex world. Then, the challenge is finding genuine, relevant
and significant examples of global or cultural contexts that enhance, deepen and illustrate an
understanding of the math.
The global era will demand these skills of its citizens—the education system should provide
students the wherewithal to be proficient in them.

ibbel Ambitious

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Yes, Math does help predict the behavior of nature and phenomena in the world. This is the field
called "Mathematical Modelling". An example would be the whole field of Physics, from
Newton's Laws of Motion, to Electromagnetic Equations, these are all mathematical in nature.

What happens is, researchers observe nature and phenomena and try to make a mathematical
model that works for their observation, and makes sense. Basically, they try to generalize, or find a
rule, for what they observe. After that, these models can be used for simulations which help
predict what will happen.

For example, researchers found that a group of bacteria grows exponentially over time at a
particular rate. This model can then be used to find how many bacteria are there at any time.

Models range from simple to complex, from deterministic to stochastic / probabilistic, from time-
dependent to not, etc. There are also usually different models for the same phenomena, depending
on what aspect of the phenomena the researchers focus on.

As stated, models /can/ be probabilistic, so Math cannot always actually determine phenomena.
But, it can give probabilities, or benchmarks.

I was at the recent NSTW, and one researcher said that they could not predict when earthquakes
would happen, but that they could give probabilities, though with the disclaimer that the standard
deviation was high. In this example, even if they can't actually predict when and where disasters
happen, the model is very useful so that they know which places to watch out for.

The goal, always, is to find a model that is usable. So, it should be accurate enough and give
enough insights without it being unnecessarily complex.

Hope this helps!

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