“When will I ever use this?” is one of the questions geometry teachers dread most. But there are some real-life applications of the concepts you are teaching in your classroom that can help put that question to rest.

When will I use geometry?

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Geometry is a constant presence in art and design, even if it’s not always obvious. The relatively new field of projection mapping is one direct example of its impact. In both painting and photography, composition is based on geometrical concepts. An artist may even use a grid to ensure that a particular drawing is symmetrical. In website design, geometry is used to make websites that are easy to navigate and pleasant to look at. Geometry is present in video game development and computer graphics as well.

The question, “When will I use geometry?” can also be answered with carpentry or construction, where it’s necessary to build just about any kind of structure, no matter how large or small. The amount of materials required and how those materials fit together all comes down to mathematics and the ability to take accurate measurements. An understanding of geometry is particularly important in regards to buildings like stadiums that are meant to safely hold large numbers of people.

When will I use geometry?

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

For thousands of years, geometry has been the backbone of all great architecture; from the ancient pyramids to the Louvre, geometry determines the proportions between spaces. Design and architecture often overlap, as seen in landscape planning. “When will I use geometry?” is answered in outdoor arrangements around the world. Just as the beams of buildings must fit together to form a functioning whole, a garden or park is composed of plants that grow to compliment each other and the space where they’ve been planted.

Mapping and land surveying are other areas of employment that require geometry in order to take accurate measurements of Earth. Cartographers have long been challenged by the distortions created by the planet’s surface. Without geometry, people would get lost a lot more often. Just ask an airline pilot, “When will I use geometry?” and she’ll tell you that it’s an area of mathematics that remains crucial in plotting flight routes across the globe. It’s once again thanks to geometry that navigators are able to plan the shortest route of travel from point A to point B, even when those points are separated by thousands of miles.

Want to incorporate more geometry into the classroom? Read about how architecture is changing STEM.