Tool WB-1: Science in the world of work

For this tool you will need the following resources:

  • WB-1 PowerPoint
  • Handout 1: Science in the world of work

This tool aims to introduce teachers to examples of the use of science in the world of work so that theydownload_powerpoint can discuss how workplace mathematics differs from school mathematics. The tool gives four examples of the use of science in different workplaces. These demonstrate how mathematics in workplaces becomes adapted or transformed and bespoke to a specific workplace and its required outcomes. This can be a problem for workers when they meet science in workplace settings – how do they make sense of it? As a first step it is important that we are aware of this issue and then we might start to consider how to address the problem.

Briefly discuss with the group how science, as it is used in the workplace, can look very different to the way it appears in school, so much so that workers often do not realise when they are doing science. It seems that what is taught and learned in school is separate from the workplace and has little utility or purpose other than in classrooms to enable students to gain qualifications.


Ask teachers to work in pairs, for about half an hour, to read the accounts of the use of science in different workplaces on the Handout: Science in the world of work, to discuss differences in how they see the use of science in workplaces compared to the way it is taught and used in school. They should make a note of their thinking. (The first account is quite substantial but the others are much briefer. Omit the first description if you are short of time).

Bring the group back together and ask them to share their responses. They may come up with a range of suggestions – make a note of the main points.

There are many accounts within research papers of the use of science in workplace situations. It may be useful for the group to read some of these before the next session and report back on their responses to the issues raised.



Anthony, W. A., & Anthony, C. W. (2005). The Napping Company: bringing science to the workplace. Industrial Health, 43(1), 209-212.

Chin, P., Zanibbi, M., Dalgarno, N., Poth, C., Ayala, G., Hutchinson, N. L., & Munby, H. (2007). Teaching science for the workplace? An analysis of Canadian science curriculum documents. Canadian Journal of Math, Science & Technology Education, 7(2-3), 107-132.