Arizona PBS adds to big digital learning effort

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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Screens are a part of our children's lives now. Instead of ignoring that fact, PBS has embraced it by producing digital learning tools for parents and teachers.

The producers and educators at Arizona PBS focused on real-life math. They found people who use it in their everyday work, told their stories on video, and produced activity sheets and lessons to go along with the story.

“Mathematics is a language,” said carpenter Raul Ramirez, as he sat surrounded by the wood-working machines at the Southwest Center for Craftsmanship.

Like Ramirez, most of us use math in our jobs every day.

“Until now, I hadn't really thought about how I use math in my position,” said restaurant owner Kiersten Mor in her video.

Getting people to think about math and why it's important in the real world is the idea behind 20 new videos from Arizona PBS Eight.

“When I was a kid, I remember thinking, ‘when am I going to need this? I don't need this math, I'm never going to need it.'” said Mark Becker.

Becker echoes a mindset that so many people have. He is the Associate Director of Educational Outreach. He spends a lot of his time showing teachers and parents how to use these videos and other technology to teach kids.

“There's video, audio, interactives, websites, lesson plans, documents that a teacher can go in there and grab,” he said. “And utilize in their classroom right there.”

Assistant production manager, Suzanne Guery helped find the professionals you see in the videos and tell their stories. One of her favorites is about the chef, Kiersten Mor.

“Hearing the math that goes into developing a recipe,” Guery said. “What goes into ordering, and what goes into setting prices and what goes into a chef/owner being a business person as well.”

The connection to math is obvious for some professions, such as a civil engineer or woodworker. But then there is Becker's favorite, John Anderson, ASU's men's basketball athletic trainer.

“If we're gone for six days,” Anderson does the math in the video. “I have 15 guys on the team, two ankles, a roll of tape for each ankle. Got 30 rolls times the number of days we're on the road.”

“We spent about three hours with him,” Becker said. “Watching him work, talk about math, wrapping ankles; that was one of my favorites.”

The 20 Real-Life Math videos are part of a collection of more than 100,000 resources through PBS Learning Media. And they are all free, connecting everyone to math and other subjects in a new way.

“It sounds like an exaggeration,” Becker said. "But I've had teachers say this has changed the way I teach.”

The PBS shows cover science, social studies, math and language arts or English.

You can find them by starting here: http://www.pbslearningmedia.org/

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