Friday, 25 May 2012 9:23 AM
Maths has a role to play in a whole range of real-life situations, but it can be difficult to make students appreciate that when they are studying concepts in a classroom. A trip to New York can change their attitude by demonstrating how the subject is used in the workplace.
Few cities in the world have architecture to match that found in the Big Apple and the eye-catching buildings can form the basis for a series of mathematical problems for your group to solve while they are in the US. New York is also one of the world's most important financial centres and you can visit a number of places where maths experts are the most valued staff.
Among the things that should be part of any good school tour of New York are a trip to Ellis Island and the views from the observation deck of the Empire State Building. You can use the immigration records at the former as the basis of projects on the collection and applications of statistics, while the structures you can see from 100 floors up can be used for trigonometry demonstrations that show how maths is used in architecture and construction.
Having planted that seed in the minds of your students, ask them to examine some of New York's other landmarks. Frank Lloyd Wright's inverted spiral design for the Guggenheim Museum shows how calculations can be used to construct buildings that are works of art, while the Brooklyn Bridge is a fine example of the use of catenary curves in architecture.
Another important application of the subject can be found on Wall Street, where trades worth hundreds of millions of dollars take place every day. The city's financial district is somewhere maths graduates are in high demand and command huge salaries, as investment banks use them to design their systems and the models that help to inform traders' decisions.
Take a guided tour of Wall Street to learn what goes on there today and discover more about its history. Follow it with a visit to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to find out what a central bank does and how its activities affect the US economy. Your students will also be allowed to see inside the vault, where 7,000 tons of gold are stored.
The Big Apple will soon have another fascinating attraction, as the MoMath Museum of Mathematics is scheduled to open in December 2012. It will feature a selection of dynamic exhibits designed to showcase the evolving creative and aesthetic qualities of the subject.