Bridging the Gap Between Math Class and the Real World

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This course is no longer being offered.

Course Description

More often than not, the things we learn in math class seem to have no other use except in math class: the quadratic formula, finding domain and range, the Pythagorean Theorem... Yet these very techniques can give us a deep understanding of the world around us and even enable us to do things like create basic computer animation and predict the weather. This course will offer a summary of the basic elements of algebra, geometry, and pre-calculus, hand-in-hand with the amazing real-world problems these tools help solve.

According to C. Henry Edwards and David E. Penney, both professors of mathematics, "The laws of the universe are written in the language of mathematics." If this is true, why does it always seem like math is nothing more than memorizing formulas and plugging in numbers? How can this possibly lead us to discovering the laws of the universe?

In this course, we will answer these questions by taking a look at the basic elements of algebra, geometry, and pre-calculus, and how they are used by mathematicians everyday to solve some pretty amazing real-world problems. We will see how topics including functions, domain and range, asymptotes, rates of change, parametric equations, polygons, and more, relate to things like computer graphics, predicting the weather, and the Great Red Spot on Jupiter.

This course will allow you to prepare for high school math courses, spot connections between concepts which once seemed unrelated, and learn how mathematicians put the things we learn in math class to incredible use.

If you haven't taken pre-calculus, don't worry! We'll go over all you need to know for the course!

After completing this course, students should be able to:

• Recognize connections between the techniques taught in algebra and geometry, as well as how these various techniques can supplement each other in solving problems.
• Identify the tools necessary to solve a given real-world algebra/geometry problem, and then interpret the results in the context of the original problem.
• Think more creatively (with the aid of algebra and geometry) while problem solving in future math courses.

Prerequisites: Open to all high school students. Students should have taken algebra and geometry. All necessary mathematical concepts will be reviewed/taught first to ensure all students are on the same page.


Course Information

  • Course Code: CEMA0914
  • Length: 1 week

Program Information


Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences, offering over 200 non-credit courses, one- to four-weeks long, taught on Brown’s campus. For students completing grades 9-12 by June 2019.

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