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Using A Popular Television Show To Excite Interest In Science And Mathematics Through Engineering: Numb3 Rs For Teachers

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Design Constituents

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.1324.1 - 13.1324.8



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Paper Authors

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Catherine Skokan Colorado School of Mines

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Michael Ewing Colorado School of Mines

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Barbara Moskal Colorado School of Mines

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Heidi Barker Regis University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Using a Popular Television Show to Excite Interest in Science and Mathematics through Engineering: NUMB3RS for Teachers

Abstract As part of a continuing effort to increase the mathematical and scientific literacy of middle school teachers and their students, the Colorado School of Mines has offered a series of summer workshops. The theme of these workshops is using engineering concepts to excite teachers’ and students’ interests in the applications of mathematics and physical science. Each workshop is followed by an academic year intervention during which a graduate student visits the middle school classroom and assists the participating teachers in implementing mathematical and scientific experiments. In the summer of 2007, the workshop was based on the television show NUMB3RS, which is well known for its use of mathematics and science to solve criminal cases. As part of the summer workshop, the teachers viewed an episode of NUMB3RS. Then, they learned about the mathematical and scientific concepts discussed in the show and completed hands-on activities that built on these concepts. Multiple choice pre and post tests were administered at the beginning and end of the workshop to measure change in the teachers’ mathematical and scientific knowledge. This paper describes the design of the NUMB3RS workshop and outcomes of our assessment efforts.

We all use math every day; to predict weather, to tell time, to handle money. Math is more than formulas or equations; it’s logic, it’s rationality, it’s using your mind to solve the biggest mysteries we know1.

Introduction In the summer of 2006, a graduate student, Michael Ewing, approached several faculty members at the Colorado School of Mines (CSM), who he knew frequently taught summer content workshops for teachers, with an idea. His idea was to use the popular television show, NUMB3RS, to teach mathematical and scientific content to middle school teachers and their students. At this point in time, the faculty members were only minimally familiar with the television program but found the idea to be intriguing.

Further investigation into this show resulted in the recognition that others had already pursued this idea. In particular, Texas Instruments (TI) and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) have partnered with CBS Broadcasting, Inc. (CBS) to create educational modules associated with the show. CBS further had granted permission to the educational community to tape and show segments of NUMB3RS for classroom use2. TI and NCTM had jointly developed lesson plans in conjunction with the television program that illustrate the importance and applicability of mathematics to the real world. Often, these real world applications include applications to engineering. The TI/NCTM lesson plans were designed by teachers and mathematicians to target grades 9 through 12.

Skokan, C., & Ewing, M., & Moskal, B., & Barker, H. (2008, June), Using A Popular Television Show To Excite Interest In Science And Mathematics Through Engineering: Numb3 Rs For Teachers Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4030

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