Free Math Related Career Videos: The Futures Channel
“When am I EVER going to use this?” If I had a nickel for every time I heard that as a high school math teacher! A few years ago I was tired of hearing this question (and tired of giving an often canned response of “math teaches you to think logically” or something similar). Then, one day, I was searching for websites that show math careers and came upon The Futures Channel.
The Futures Channel highlights careers that use math in varying levels of intensity. They have short videos showcasing the career and include interviews of people who currently work in that career. Some of the topics I have watched with my students are: matchbox car designer, designing skateboards, testing baseball bats, and designing performance sunglasses just to name a few! The thing I like about the videos is that they showcase some really cool careers. It isn’t “Here’s Jane, a scientist who looks Petri dishes all day” kind of stuff. They have a video about the guys who make really outrageous aquariums on TV, but they had the video years before it was a TV show. I also like that the careers don’t generally require calculus or other super high level math, but they do require math, so maybe (maybe?) they get my students realizing that math is relevant no matter what your career choice.
The site is offers some videos for free(full disclosure: I have only used the free videos because my school district has no money), but it also offers a subscription to unlock all of their videos. There are two subscription options: monthly for $9.95/month and an annual subscription for $95. They also offer one time purchase DVD options ranging in price from $25 to $145 depending on how much content is included. The free video options do rotate, which I’ve found to have pros and cons. Sometimes a video you watched last week with your students is not free this week, so you’ll have to find something else. However, I do like that they rotate because it allows me to share more videos with my students for free.
I’m sure I’m not alone in the fact that I’ve been asked to do more writing with my students to work on their composition skills (or just general punctuation, spelling, and grammar!), so I used The Futures Channel as one way to incorporate writing into my math classroom. HERE is a worksheet I used when I showed my students the videos. I felt like it helped them pay attention and really focus on what was being discussed. Before I used a worksheet most students paid attention, but you always have those few that think a video = nap time. So, I recommend having questions to go along with the video. My worksheet is generic, so you can use it with any of the videos ( or other videos you might show as well!).
The website also offers activities and sometimes lesson plans to go along with their videos. Right now there is a video on making stronger skateboards (cool!) and it has an activity for middle school students dealing with ratios, means, and plotting points. It has students work in groups and compare the flex in rulers while adding pennies to a cup suspended on the ruler. Then the students have to write about their findings. Hello! STEM lesson!
The Futures Channel is just one of the many resources I’ve found useful in my teaching and I hope you do, too!
*I was not compensated in any way by The Futures Channel for this post; I just think they have a really great product!