Galileo summed it all up when he concluded “Mathematics is the alphabet with which God has created the universe.” Sounds complicated? Well, math isn’t. Have you ever tried to get through one day without using math? How about an hour? It can’t be done, because even if you try to get through one minute, you’re still using math. How? Using measurement and time by counting the seconds in a minute!
When students are in a math class learning the concepts in isolation, many struggle because they cannot connect the concepts they are learning with how they’ll use it in the real world. This leads to failure and many struggle from then on to “learn” math.
There is a difference between math in the classroom and math in the real world. In the real world, the problems are usually not very difficult. You can work with others to solve the problems. Many times, the problems are simple math adding, subtracting, multiplying, or dividing. In a classroom, students are working individually and competing with each other. They take tests to see how well they can solve a problem by themselves. That’s not what happens outside the classroom.
How do we use math every day? Besides the basic math computation that a calculator can be used for? Here are some examples and below those are some websites for those people who always want to know more.
Money: This is an easy one. We all need to know how to use money, but we also need to know how to calculate the interest in our checking and savings accounts, mortgage payments, car payments, and other things. But what about calculating the finance charge on credit cards; which is cheaper owning or leasing a car; did our pay check show the right amount when overtime was worked;
Fractions: We use fractions in measurement, recipes, and calculating time and discounts. And don’t forget about dividing up the pizza! Decimals and percentages are also fractions. Is gas ever a whole dollar amount? What about that half off sale? And the down payment for the dining room suit you really want? Fractions are a part of a whole. Most of what we do every day is a fraction.
Algebra: Algebra allows us to take our spoken language and convert it into mathematical terms. In other words, we take a real life situation and turn it into an equation and then we can solve it. Here’s an example: Catherine had 25 jelly beans. She put them in her pocket to take to school for her snack. Unfortunately, she had a hole in her pocket. She lost 6 jelly beans on the way to school. How many does she have now? 25 6 = x. When we were in first grade, the teacher put a circle instead of an x, but the concept is the same. There are harder problems, but algebra is basically this simple.
Graphs: Graphs are planned drawings that consist of lines and numbers and how they relate to each other. By using graphs, you can keep track of things and simplify your life. Graphs are everywhere. They are simple to understand and make even complicated data easy.
Statistics: Ever heard of mean, median, and mode? What about averaging a group of numbers? Well, that’s statistics. If you want to know the average price of the houses in your area so that you can decide on a price that will help your house sell, then you’ll be using statistics.
Geometry: Geometry is the one math concept that is used almost as much as basic computation. Calculating area, volume, making cones, pyramids, and other shapes are just some ways we use geometry. Navigators use geometry to solve problems of speed, time, and distance.
Math is also used in art. Artists will tell you that math or symmetry is used in creating pictures. Art might not require addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division but there is a big need for geometric shapes and figures. Triangles, squares, rectangles, parallelograms, and other shapes are used all the time. And don’t forget about curves, lines, rays, as well as perspective (showing depth on a flat surface), tessellations, and even paper folding.
Math is used every day and in every way. When you’re planning a party, or a trip, calculating your grades, measuring, designing a budget, trying to buy a car, or relaxing with friends and watching a football games or analyzing batting averages, you’re using math. So, when a child asks why they need to learn this, you’ve got some answers for them now.
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