• The Spark

Connecting Math and Careers: Show Students How Building Math Foundations Can Lead to a Rewarding Career in Software Development

Author:  The Spark Staff  | 08/14/2017

Show students how building math foundations can lead to a rewarding career

Many of your students spend a good portion of their day staring into the screen of their smartphones, which can sometimes be an unwelcome intrusion to lesson instruction time.

Whether posting on Facebook, sending out a tweet, or playing the coolest new video game app, it’s clear that students today have a strong bond with technology. So why not motivate your students and help steer that passion toward a promising career?

Software . . . Is Everywhere!

Software is more than just the engine that powers smartphones and video games. It’s also what activates the keyless ignition of your car, keeps your online bank account secure, and runs countless other aspects of our everyday lives. For this reason, software development is one of the hottest and fastest-growing careers in the market.

Quick Facts: Software Developers*

2015 Median Pay

$100,690 per year; $48.41 per hour

Typical Entry-Level Education

Bachelor’s degree

Work Experience in Related Occupation

None

On-the-Job Training

None

Number of Jobs, 2014

1,114,000

Job Outlook, 2014–24

17% growth (Much faster than average)

Employment Change, 2014–24

186,600

Math skills play an important role in everything a software developer does—from graph plotting/geometry and algebraic expressions to problem solving/critical thinking. Making this connection known to your students is a good way to start them down that path and perhaps motivate them to discover their inner mathematician.

Putting Math into Motion in Your Classroom

There are several innovative ways to bridge the connection between math and software development as you prepare your students for college and career readiness.

  1. Engage Students with Entertaining, Relevant Content

    With the intense interest today’s students have in video games, why not engage them in a language they can understand? Visit YouTube® and walk your students through a level or two of a family-friendly game. This can help jumpstart a discussion on the mathematical processes that were actually used to develop those game levels.

    You can also use your interactive whiteboard to project a teacher-led tour of various social media sites, showing how app developers learn from and collaborate with one another.

  2. Establish the Connection through Examples

    Either during or after the initial engagement, use real-world examples to underscore the importance of math in the technology field. For example, comment on how Google (and other search engines) resulted from using math in a revolutionary new way to produce algorithms that created a more efficient way to search the Internet.

    Self-checkout lines are another daily convenience that software developers played a large role in. The ability to instantly process and perform money-based transactions demonstrates a clear and established connection between mathematics and software technology.

  3. Show the Connection through Relevant Coursework

    During class time, use specific lessons to point out to students where software developers initially learn the basic math skills they rely on every day to perform their computations and calculations.

    • Algebra: Point out that developers use algebraic expressions like the Quadratic Formula to create “algorithms” that assist in the coding process and provide detailed instructions for the computer. Students will be amazed at this real-world connection.
    • Geometry: A variety of models and diagrams—including flowcharts—are created and used to instruct programmers on how to write and implement software code.
    • General Problem-Solving Skills: Critical thinking helps a developer to analyze consumer and business needs so that they can design, test, and develop software to meet those needs.

  4. Encourage More Hands-on Practice

    Coding workshops are a great way to give students hands-on practice. In 2016, HMH partnered with Osmo™—an app-based educational gaming platform—to provide coding opportunities to more than 4,000 elementary classrooms nationwide.

    Locally, you can encourage your students to visit The Microsoft Store, which offers a free 90-minute Hour of Code™ Workshop for kids ages 8 and over, as well as a DigiGirlz® two-hour workshop for girls ages 14–18.

    Encouraging students to take a closer look at the important role that math plays in software development can set them up for a very productive career in an ever-expanding industry. In this case, the numbers do add up...to success!

    Learn more about math-related career options that may be of interest to your students in our downloadable Numeracy Counts Careers eBook. It’s a great classroom resource that can help motivate your students to develop an appreciation for math and number sense.

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