Exploring Careers in Mathematics

Even though the potential connection between today’s math classroom and the jobs of the future is frequently cited in speeches, reports, and news headlines, busy middle school students may not be paying attention. Here are online resources that can help you make the connection more relevant, and a lot more engaging, to preteens. In some cases, the connection appears in the words of young people who recognize that math and science were the keys to jobs they love.

BLS Career Information
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has adapted career information from its Occupational Outlook Handbook on a web site just for students in grades 4-8. By clicking on a job characteristic—building and fixing things, managing money, helping people—or a subject area–math, social studies, science—the student is taken to a page with five or six occupations and links to related jobs. On the page titled “If you’re good at math, then look at these possible careers,” the jobs listed are statistician, electrical engineer, surveyor, physicist, cost estimator, and actuary.

Role Model Project for Girls: Professional Women’s Careers
Computer professionals created this web site at which women share descriptions of their work and the paths that led them there. Clicking on a career will take students randomly to a contributor’s brief statement. Not all contributors mention math or science, but many do. A project engineer advises: “Take as much math and science as possible even if you aren’t sure what you want to do after high school. That is the best way to keep all of your options open while you explore various career options.”

The Fun Works…for Careers You Never Knew Existed.
This site funded by the National Science Foundation is designed for students in grades 6-9 and focuses on science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers. Students can take a quiz on their interests and strengths to help pinpoint career areas. Or they can go directly to math careers, where they’ll find more than 20 occupations. A teacher’s page lists resources for classroom activities.

Discover Engineering.org
At this web site designed for young people, engineers offer a menu of career explorations, including contests, games, activities from the PBS shows Cyberchase and Zoom, and biographies of engineers who are just two to five years out of school.


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We want and need your ideas, suggestions, and observations. What would you like to know more about? What questions have your students asked? We invite you to share with us and other readers by posting your comments. Please check back often for our newest posts or download the RSS feed for this blog. Let us know what you think and tell us how we can serve you better. We appreciate your feedback on all of our Middle School Portal 2 publications. You can also email us at msp@msteacher.org. Post updated 4/19/2012.

Exploring Careers in Engineering

Professional groups representing engineers in many fields have developed web sites to introduce middle school students to career opportunities. All of the sites described here are noteworthy for their appealing graphics, kid-friendly approach, and access to the personal stories of young engineers. The importance of math and science learning is emphasized throughout.

The Engineering AlphabetNSDL Annotation
Links to pages of information about engineering fields, from aerospace to transportation, are featured at this K-12 site, sponsored by the American Society for Engineering Education. Also available from the homepage are personal stories of young engineers and resources for teachers.

Civil Engineering and MathNSDL Annotation
In response to a student question about what concepts of math and physics are used by civil engineers, Dr. Math of Math Forum gives a four-part answer. He also points out that most professionals need solid math skills in areas other than their specialty; for example, making business decisions.

Discover Engineering.org
This site introduces careers in engineering with a choice of features designed to appeal to students in middle school and up: games, links to PBS shows, profiles of young engineers, downloadables from a number of sources, and links to activities and projects. Be patient. The intro takes a few seconds, then the home page becomes visible.

Engineer Girl!
The National Academy of Engineering created this web site to acquaint young women with the opportunities for them in the engineering fields. Students can email questions to practicing engineers. A section of the web site called Celebration of Women in Engineering provides resources for parents, teachers, and other mentors to use in encouraging girls in math and science.

TryEngineering.org
Designed to be a resource for students and their parents, teachers and school counselors, this site is a portal to information about engineering and engineering careers. Teachers will find a section of lesson plans that align with education standards and apply engineering principles in the classroom. Students can ask questions of practicing engineers and undergraduate students.

We Need Your Help

We want and need your ideas, suggestions, and observations. What would you like to know more about? What questions have your students asked? We invite you to share with us and other readers by posting your comments. Please check back often for our newest posts or download the RSS feed for this blog. You can also request email notification when new content is posted (see right navigation bar).

Let us know what you think and tell us how we can serve you better. We want your feedback on all of the NSDL Middle School PortalNSDL Annotation publications. Email us at msp@msteacher.org.