Lights, Camera, Action: Math in Pop Culture for Teachers

April 22, 2024 No Comments

It is summertime and you, my friend, deserve some relaxation! The school year can be quite the grind, and summer break can provide a much-needed recharge. What about recharging with math in pop culture for teachers?

One of my favorite things to do during the summer is watch television shows and movies, which I usually find too tiring to watch during the school year. There is nothing like total relaxation on the couch. 

Do you ever find yourself asking, what should I watch? I’m sure you have a list of current shows and movies you want to catch up on… but what about a list of movies and shows that will inspire and encourage you as a math teacher? You may not want to think about school too much during your break. However, some great TV shows and movies can remind you exactly why you do what you do for a living. 

I’ve compiled the perfect list of math in pop culture for teachers. Maybe there are some movies and shows you haven’t seen or new ones on the list. Either way, I’m sure you’ll find some movies and TV shows that will entertain, inspire, and excite you as you recharge your batteries this summer and prepare for another year of math education. Take a look!

Lights, Camera, Action: Math in pop culture for teachers

Math in Pop Culture for Teachers: Movies

Watching movies is relaxing, but do they cover math concepts? Well, they may not be movies you want to show your students when teaching them a new idea, but these movies demonstrate the importance of math in our world. This list includes math teachers, math geniuses, and examples of mathematics in the real world. This list of popular media movies will remind you that the math you teach your students matters. Many of the films involve teachers, which isn’t surprising at all! After all, most math journeys begin in a classroom. 

See the list of math in pop culture for teachers below and find some movie clips that pique your interest and inspire you!

Stand and Deliver This movie is based on the true story of Jaime Escalante, a math teacher who taught calculus to a group of students from a disadvantaged background and inspired them to excel academically.

Hidden Figures This film tells the story of three African-American women mathematicians who worked at NASA during the Space Race. Their calculations made some of the most outstanding achievements in space at the time. Don’t want to watch this inspiring story? Grab the best-selling book instead!

The Man Who Knew Infinity This biographical drama focuses on the life of Srinivasa Ramanujan, an Indian mathematician who contributed to mathematical analysis, number theory, and infinite series. The movie covers so many topics, including the power of collaboration.

The Imitation Game This compelling story focuses on the life of Alan Turing, a mathematician who broke the German Enigma code during World War II with the help of fellow mathematicians. Turing’s work laid the foundation for modern computing. Benedict Cumberbatch gives an inspiring performance that you don’t want to miss.

A Beautiful Mind is an Academy Award-winning movie based on the life of John Nash, a brilliant mathematician who struggled with schizophrenia. The film explores his groundbreaking work in mathematical concepts and his many personal struggles.

Good Will Hunting If you haven’t seen this Ben Affleck and Matt Damon breakout film, you are missing out. This film follows a janitor at MIT who has incredible mathematics talent. The story revolves around his struggle to realize his potential and his relationship with a psychologist (hello, Robin Williams) who tries to help him. The story and acting are both phenomenal in this one.

21 This is a fun one that shows how powerful and expensive being good at math can be! A true story inspires it and follows a group of MIT students who use their mathematical skills to count cards in blackjack and win big in Las Vegas.

The Martian Matt Damon plays the mathematician quite well because he is the lead actor in this entertaining film. He plays an astronaut who becomes stranded on Mars after his team assumes him dead (due to a massive storm). He relies on his ingenuity and mathematics to try to stay alive and make it back home.

Moneyball This story shows the power of making the numbers work for you. This sports biopic is about Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane’s (played by Brad Pitt) successful attempt to assemble a baseball team on a limited budget by employing computer-generated analysis to acquire new players.

N Is a Number: A Portrait of Paul Erdös This movie is a little different from the rest. It is a biography of the famous mathematician Paul Erdos. It captures the life, collaborators, and math of a well-loved man. 

Have a movie night with these math in pop culture for teacher references.

Math in Pop Culture for Teachers: Television Shows

These TV shows are a fun way to see math in popular culture. They are filled with mathematical ideas and pop culture references. And there’s a little something on here for everyone! Looking for a drama? Or maybe something that will make you laugh? Either way, pick one of the popular shows below and see how people use math in real life (at least television real life).

NUMB3RS This television crime drama follows an FBI agent and his mathematician brother working together to solve criminal cases using mathematical principles and theories.

The Big Bang Theory While primarily a sitcom, this well-loved show is centered around a group of socially awkward scientists and mathematicians. Mathematics is frequently referenced and discussed, often in a humorous manner. 

Futurama This animated sci-fi comedy often incorporates mathematical concepts, puzzles, and jokes. If you like adult animation, this one is for you!

Television shows with math in pop culture for teachers.

This list of math in pop culture for teachers is a perfect way to spend some of your lazy summer days and nights. While you don’t need to start thinking about your classroom, seeing how math is used all around you can be inspiring. You might even find some video clips that you can use with your students during the school year in your math class.

So pop some popcorn, kick up your feet, and enjoy this ultimate list of math in pop culture for teachers. Happy summer!

Amanda Stitt

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I’m a mom, military spouse, and teacher trying to find the elusive balance of everything going on in life. I am passionate about helping teachers feel supported and equipped to meet the needs of their unique learners. Thanks for stopping by and let’s start teaching together! Read More

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