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Help Danica McKellar Make Her New Nerdist Channel Show Better

DanicaMathDoesntSuckAs you might be aware, Danica McKellar, and here we’re going to mention that she was Winnie on The Wonder Years and Elsie on The West Wing one more time before we concentrate on her extensive work encouraging girls to study math, is preparing a series for the Nerdist Channel. And she’s asking for your help to make the show the fun, interesting, entertaining show you want it to be.

DanicaKissMyMathHere’s how: You can suggest math-oriented topics directly to Danica via Twitter at @danicamckellar. Or you can post them as comments at her website. And, better, if you’re someone who uses math in your job and love what you do, or if you just have something to say about math — your favorite or least favorite thing about it, the role it plays in your life, whatever — you can submit short YouTube or Vimeo videos of yourself to with your name and contact info by Monday, March 11th.

Submit away, please. And look for Danica’s show later this year on the Nerdist Channel (and subscribe so you know as soon as each episode is posted).

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  1. richard says:

    Well, I’m a word person (a professional writer) who was a mathophobe. I do think the TENDENCY toward verbal or math skills is inherent, but the opposing one can be nurtured. How? By relating it to things people understand. For men? The math of a pitched curving baseball or the force of a defensive football player’s tackle. For women? The math of how a woman can walk in stiletto shoes (even I would like to know this!).

    Relate something we “fear” or find “too abstract” to something we like or can be applied to in the world around us.

    P.S. I started as a science writer for a magazine with an educated-but-lay audience; explaining complex science in lay language has a lot in common with explaining math.

  2. Dana Griffin says:

    I know I’m late but a good topic is “math in the real world”. When I was in school you constantly told yourself “I’ll never use this.” I entered the construction industry as a sheet metal worker not knowing the extent of math I would need (addition/subtraction/fractions/decimals/geometry/algebra/both standard and metric).
    Moving up in the industry (now Senior Project Manager/Production Manager) We use these things and more. Most teachers say “if you want to be a doctor you’ll need…” but a good grasp of math allows one to work well in all industries, even the lowly construction trades!

  3. Daniel Schleisman says:

    I think the simple act of making change is being neglected. I taught for a number of years and the students seemed to get very good at it. But now when I work in our concession stand at baseball and softball games very few of the student workers are able to make change without getting their calculator out.

  4. I hope you make math easier. I was good at math up until basic algebra and intermediate, then it got harder. I still hate word problems, I don’t know why I couldn’t get them, they frustrate me so much.

  5. SueH says:

    Some of my art students have disabilities. I use mostly the 4 color painting method with math (counting, adding and dividing) in the directions. I am always amazed at what is accomplished. Interesting Site, and thank you for your efforts.

  6. Anabel says:

    As an adult, I see math underpinning almost everything. As a child, I didn’t see the relevance. I learned it because I had to, not because I thought it would help me. While young children learn to learn – their brains work that way – older children and adults need to see how something relates to what’s important to them.

    I’ve often thought that math by career would be interesting. How does a veterinarian use math? A human resource professional? A hair stylist? A chef? A house cleaner? The folks in Cake Wars? An executive? A pet groomer?

  7. Ivan says:

    Adults and children seem to be in to analytics/statistics more than they realize these days. I do not know if you would target kids or adults but integrating math into what is popular in media seems to be a nice inroad to deeper math. An example might be tracking popularity in a particular Dr. Who actor or media franchise (as represented by Netflix views or Google searches) in relation to other factors such as release of mortality data or other related scientific data, outlook on financial futures, poverty, release of new technologies and shifts in numbers on athiesm. You could track data weekly and give people fun facts on how a particular news events triggered another event statistically speaking. -butterfly effect

  8. Alina says:

    I know I missed the deadline – but I tell this to my teen students. and moms of 6th grade parents the most. “You are smarter than you realize, and you have been doing this kind of math over and over again with out realizing it.” – Shopping. They are figuring out how much money they can save when they see a sale, doing percentages, which are fractions and decimals – WITHOUT A CALCULATOR – because it’s something they LIKE AND WANT. Ask a girl how much she can save on a pair of shoes that are 20% off. I bet she can figure out the price pretty quick. Ask a mom how much more money she will have left when there is 25% savings on the grocery bill. (or 1/4) When they aren’t in a “high pressure” situation – their minds work. Too often they feel the “test is coming” or “state tests are coming” – so MAYBE, just maybe, they need to understand that their minds can work the same in a test environment as it can in the shopping mall. Just work on that confidence part – and show them that they have been doing a lot of this all along.

  9. Nikki Maxwell says:

    I think I missed the deadline to send a video? Please let us know if you still want submissions. I’m just seeing this now, a little late to the party. My thirteen year old daughter and my ten year old daughter are both math kids. I wasn’t. I have lots of questions about how to nurture them when what they are into goes over my noggin. You answered my calculator dilemma on your Facebook site which was great by posting a Casio resource site link. That helped a lot.


  10. Timothy Brown says:

    I use math to make myself feel better on election nights.

    – Karl Rove

  11. Kristy says:

    I agree with the “When will I use this?” suggestion. I always find myself taking a deep breath before I tell people what I do – working in a women’s protection unit at the Gender-Based Violence Information Management Specialist. It’s not a job you think you’ll have in high school – I didn’t even know it existed. But my job (while the math is not too extensive) has a global effect.

    We look at safely and ethically collected statistics and determine how we can alter programming to respond better to the needs of survivors of gender-based violence. I struggle with the numbers part sometimes because each number represents a person’s experience with violence, so interpreting the numbers and basing action off those numbers is… kind of a big deal.

    All that to say – I could have used a lot more ‘this is how you’ll use this stuff’ from my high school and college teachers that wasn’t just focused on being a teacher, engineer, or computer scientist. There are a lot of other out of the box, unique jobs where you use math- perhaps not the same level of math as physicists or something, but math nonetheless.

  12. Murphy1d says:

    I would love to see a way in which Benford’s Law gets put to real-use. I know it works great in identifying fraud. Maybe a way on which a person could tell who is lying in a set of data. Another idea is showing how gambling isn’t random, but is really just math working AGAINST you (craps or roulette are great examples).

  13. Chris Gowin says:

    I am an electrician. I use 3rd grade math in a practical way every day. I make a decent living because I can add and subtract positive and negative integers. Converting fractions is also a key part of my work day. I know it’s not mathleticaly impressive but you would be suprised how many people struggle with these concepts. When I was in school I never thought thought these skills would be this lucrative.

  14. Schlogdawg says:

    Orbit predictions! Use math to predict rocket flight and satellite orbit analysis! Aerospace Engingeering FTW!

  15. Natasha says:

    I’m a librarian who teaches information literacy and does collection development. Part of my work involves taking statistics on activity, instruction, and student assessment in addition to helping students make sense of the information they find in scientific research. This means I’m usually explaining statistical concepts and talking about what the numbers they’re looking at mean. I’ve dealt with budgets in most of my jobs, and most of them have not been in the library world.

  16. jeneen says:

    When I was in High School (1970-73) We did not have or were not required to take “High” math,unless you were going to college.I’m an L.P.N. but now at my age (guess L.O.L) they want us all to be RN’S.Which requires math I know nothing about.Do you think you can teach an old dog a new trick! Jeneen

  17. RogerG says:

    One word: surveying. Here’s one surveying job which would make an interesting video – how to measure the volume of material removed from an open-pit mine using one of the new miniature aerial photography drones. They fly by themselves along a preset path – snapping aerial photographs which can be turned into a digital terrain model.

  18. Ed Bull says:

    I always liked the old pre-calc trick where you make 1 equal 0.99 repeating, as shown in DFW’s “Everything and More.”

    Start with: x=0.99(repeating)

    Multiply both sides by 10: 10x=9.99(repeating)

    Subtract 0.99 repeating from both sides, substituting for x as allowed: 9x=9

    Divide by 9: x=1

    And using that to jumpstart a talk about where limits come from and the purpose they serve, and why we consider them the same as the integer that they approach.

  19. I agree with Phillip, a show entitled, “When will I ever use this?” would be amazing! I am a tutor and all of my students have said this to me at one point or another.

  20. Michelle Courtright says:

    I work as Director of Accounts at an advertising agency I use math every day to figure out GRPs, CPMs, CPPs, etc. as well as making sure my budgets and my buys are balanced. Not the most advanced math but it’s something. 🙂

  21. Kedj says:

    Imaginary Numbers in Non-Imaginary situations?

  22. Dan says:

    Calculus as math explaining changes and accumulations. Like how a derivitive can be used to show how the steepness of the slope changes as you go back and forth in a skateboard half-pipe, or an intergal can be used to predict how big the puddle will get if you know how fast the faucet is dripping.

  23. Phillip says:

    I think you should do a segment ironically titled “When will I use this?”

    So many young people, I include my younger self, struggled with math because it can seem theoretical, imaginary numbers (how can a number or letter be imaginary???), graphs, etc. The amazing thing about Danica’s books are that they highlight ordinary people and use current examples that young people can understand.

    You should do interviews with working professionals with amazing jobs, NASA employees, artists, contractors, engineers, accountants, who use math and measurements everyday for practical things that help make peoples lives easier.

  24. Lindsay says:

    I second the ViHart suggestion. She’s fantastic!

  25. Ben says:

    Fellow actuary! But not necessarily an actuarial fellow. Did I just make an joke about actuaries that didn’t involve us looking at shoes?

  26. Vincent S says:

    Since her previous adventures at math based education was targeted towards kids and teenagers, why not go with that audience rather than just lunging in towards to VERY complicated stuff that not everyone can relate to.

    Also, there are alot of youtube Maths related channels already. It might be beneficial to look through them and see what they’re missing. I subscribed to Numberphile in the past and while those videos were good, they didn’t really keep my attention after a while. Now, ViHart. She’s still in there and I love her weird approach to her videos and I’m usually watching them right away.

    I don’t know what you guys will need in order to keep the viewer’s attention but it will probably be beneficial if it didn’t feel like a lecture. The math literate already go through that stuff with classes and lectures and the general audience will get bored of it.

    I know it’s going to be hard creating a new show but good luck the lot of ya. Just throwing in my easily bored 2 cents in the hat.

  27. Josh Zeller says:

    Celebrate math holidays! Like making pies on Pi Day (3/14) and so on. mmmm. pi.

  28. Alex says:

    Kevin’s money episode would be interesting. Compounded rates of return, and associated concepts like present/future value, and internal rates of return, are things that every high school graduate should know viscerally.

  29. Bill says:

    My letter explaining the Monty Hall problem was published in GAMES Magazine a couple of years ago. I’d be happy to share it if anyone is interested. Also: I think Simpson’s Paradox is an interesting topic, although it may be a little advanced for the intended audience.

  30. Kevin says:

    I remember when I was in elementary and middle school that I had trouble with word problems. I was great at English but when numbers got involved, I spaced. Especially the ones where they give you information that you didn’t need to solve the problem. I now use my expensive Fine Arts degree to manage at a grocery store and most of these kids that work for me can not count change back to save their life if it wasn’t on the register screen for them. A money episode would be great.

  31. Sofia says:

    I recently started my own online math tutoring services for families across Canada. I think a show about integrating technology (not powerpoint and overhead projectors) into mathematics education will inspire a slew of educators to share their resources and insights into this topic.

  32. Sofia says:

    I recently started my own online math tutoring service ( for families across Canada. I think a show about integrating technology (not powerpoint and overhead projectors) into mathematics education will inspire a slew of educators to share their resources and insights into this topic.

  33. Valerie says:

    I’m an actuary, so I price risk. I once did a presentation to kids about how pricing a hamburger (cost of cheese, bun, meat, etc) is similar to how an insurance actuary prices an insurance product.

  34. Al says:

    I wonder if there is a better way to explain the Monty Hall problem to people. I have tried to explain the solution using probability trees with mixed results.

  35. Jeremy says:

    Math in manufacturing. I’d submit a video from work, but most of what we do is proprietary. There is constant mathematics in polyurethane foaming… unending, constant math…

  36. I think you should talk about how eating from the grocery store is cheap. I hear a lot of people saying how its cheaper to eat out. Im sure you can find a cool way to work math into it.