Why Kids Should Care About Math: 3 Unlikely Careers that Use Math Skills


This is a guest post by Susan Cumberland, owner of School is Easy Tutoring in Vancouver

Not all careers require extensive math study, however, most careers do utilize basic math skills everyday.

If your child doesn’t care about math and wonders why it is important for them to learn math at school or with a tutor, here are 3 unlikely professions that use math skills that could help your child start to care about math. After reading this, they just might be motivated to learn after all.

Maybe your child wants to be a fashion designer, a chef, or a racecar driver? They will be surprised to see that these three professions use math all the time.

Math for the fashion designer:

Fashion design math

Anyone who has ever done a sewing project knows how important measurements are. Without the proper measurements or with the slightest inconsistency, the finished product will not fit properly or will look poorly made. When designing a garment you have to take into account the width of the seams and make sure you cut enough fabric to allot for the seams, so that it is the perfect size once it is all sewn together.

If your child fantasizes about becoming a famous fashion designer consider doing a sewing project together. Let them learn just how important the proper calculations are. First you need to calculate how much fabric you will need for your project. Fabric is measured in yards, so they need to know how many feet or meters are in a yard. Then they will need to take measurements of the person or the mannequin to determine the final size of the garment. Then they need to add 5/8” to each side of each piece of material for the seam allowance.

If they are impatient and just want to do the project without calculating, then let them try and see how it turns out. Once they see that the final product doesn’t fit or they don’t even have enough material to finish their project, then they will truly value the importance of math.

Math for the chef:

chef math

Whether you are restaurant chef, a pastry chef or an at home cook you will find that math skills are very useful in the kitchen.  When buying ingredients you need to calculate how much of each ingredient you will need and how much it will cost. For a pastry chef in a bakery, if someone calls in an order for 500 cupcakes, you need to know how much extra flour, sugar, eggs etc. you will need in order to make 500 additional cupcakes.

You also need to calculate how many batches of cupcakes there will be and how many ovens you have, in order to determine how long it will take to bake all of the cupcakes. These math skills are all important so you can have the order ready in time for the customer to pick up.

To emphasize the importance of math for your child who wants to be a chef, why not let them plan a special dinner for friends and family. When cooking or baking for a larger group of people, recipes need to be adjusted. Your child will need to learn how to double a recipe (multiply 2/3 of a cup by 2 to get 1 1/3 cups) or convert from grams to ounces and pounds.

They should establish a budget for the meal.  If they invite five guests, then they need to calculate how much of each ingredient is needed for each item of the meal. Help them to do the calculations on a piece of paper and then make a grocery list with the final item quantities and prices.

Once they go to the grocery store they will have to figure out what adjustments will need to be made in order to prepare the dinner within their budget. They could also prepare a menu with the meal prices so they can see how much of a profit would be made after subtracting the cost to prepare the meal. As a bonus question they could also calculate the tip that guests would need to pay the server.

Math for the race car driver:

Ford Fiesta RS WRC (2011)

Race car driving doesn’t seem like a career that utilizes math. However, race car drivers are constantly doing mental math, even when they are in motion on the racetrack.  A race car driver needs to be able to calculate their speed in relation to the degree of the curve in the race track in order to know how much to slow down and how much to turn the wheel. These calculations are necessary in order for the driver to maintain their lead in the race and also to ensure their own safety.

They also need to calculate how much gas is being used while driving certain speeds so they will know how many gallons are left in their tank and when they need to take a pit stop to refill the gas tank. Using this type of math keeps race car drivers safe, prevents the car from running out of gas in the middle of a race and helps them win first place.  Who knew that math would be so useful for a race car driver?

The book How Race Car Drivers Use Math? is for students who are between the ages of 7 and 11.  It shows how race car drivers use math as an everyday tool.

These are just three unlikely careers that use math, but there are many more.  Whatever career goal your child has, there are ways to show them the importance of using math skills for those types of jobs as well.  Your child may even have fun during the learning process!

 About the Author:

Susan Cumberland has a Masters of Education in Educational Leadership and Counselling, Bachelor of Secondary Education and has won many entrepreneurial awards including ‘Entrepreneur of the Year.’

She is currently the owner of one of the largest tutoring companies in Vancouver, B.C., School is Easy Tutoring. Her company offers tutors in Vancouver for all subjects (grades 1 -12), including languages, Special Education, Exam preparation and Study Skills.

For more about math careers check out the post: 10 Seriously Cool Careers That Need Math

Caroline Mukisa
About The Author: Caroline Mukisa is the founder of Maths Insider. A Cambridge University educated math teacher, she's been involved in math education for over 20 years as a teacher, tutor, Kumon instructor, Thinkster Math instructor and math ed blogger. She is the author of the insanely helpful ebook "The Ultimate Kumon Review" and insanely useful website "31 Days to Faster Times Tables" You can follow her math tips on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @mathsinsider

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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One thought on “Why Kids Should Care About Math: 3 Unlikely Careers that Use Math Skills

  1. This is a great idea, to demonstrate that math has real-world applications! It’s not all just about science and engineering, and kids should realize that they are going to have a difficult time avoiding it – at least the basics, anyways.