Does A Scientist Have To Be Good At Math?
The short answer is “It can’t hurt.” The physical sciences, such as Physics, Astronomy, Chemistry, all require a great deal of math to master. That is often why these disciplines are referred to as the “hard sciences.”
When it comes to high school sciences, however, the level of mathematics knowledge required is relatively minimal. One could successfully complete AP Chemistry with only seventh grade algebra skills and an understanding of base ten logarithms. High school and AP Physics require algebra, plus a facility with the trigonometric functions sine, cosine and tangent. It is only AP Physics C that requires Calculus (AP Physics 1 and AP Physics 2, both of which only require Algebra and the trigonometric functions sine, cosine and tangent).
However, it has been my experience that a student who is not at or above grade level in mathematics will struggle in these courses, not because she hasn’t been exposed to the prerequisite skills, but because there is either some aspect of number sense that has not yet been fully developed, or the perpetuated belief that they aren’t good at math. If at any point in his/her elementary years a child is falling behind in mathematics, get her the help she needs immediately. Chalking it up to “not being good at math” is the greatest disservice you can do to your child’s education, and will stunt the budding scientist within her.
There are some fields of science in which math is not paramount, such as many of the biological sciences. Whereas I firmly believe that mathematics facility can only serve a biological scientist well, high school Biology will place few to minimal demands on a student’s math skills. In college and beyond, where research is a necessary component to biology, mathematics competency will prove itself not only valuable —> Read More