, math can be a lot more fun if you can make calculations less intimidating

Ask people you know if they like math. Unless they’re mathematicians, they’ll likely say, “I’m not a math person,” “I don’t like math,” or a variation thereof.

Even parents who enroll their children in all sorts of math classes for kids presumably do not expect their children to turn into math whizzes or become so passionate about the subject they are gushing over it and solving math problems in their spare time. They probably just want their children to pass.

Indeed, people find math necessary, especially in school, but most don’t find it fun and don’t think it’s generally useful after graduation. After all, how many non-engineers need integration? That said, math’s application in daily life is often understated.

A Case for Math

On LinkedIn (and later on Twitter), a post relates the story of someone ordering a nine-inch pizza but getting two five-inch pizzas instead. The waiter said they were out of the nine-inch pizza but happily remarked that the protagonist was getting one inch for free.

Apparently, the people in the kitchen thought two five-inch pizzas were more than a suitable replacement for the unavailable nine-inch pizza. Five plus five is 10, which is one inch bigger than nine. On this basis, the story’s main character did seem to come out ahead.

However, the protagonist claimed he was, in fact, getting the short end of the stick. He then demonstrated why by calculating the area of both the nine-inch and the five-inch pizzas.

The area of a circle is πr2.

Thus, the area of a nine-inch pizza is π(4.5)2 or 3.1416(20.25) or 63.62 square inches.

Meanwhile, the area of a five-inch pizza is π(2.5)2 or 3.1416(6.25) or 19.64 square inches. Multiply this by two for the two five-inch pizzas, and you get a total area of 39.28 square inches.

Now, 39.28 square inches is 24.34 square inches short of the area of a nine-inch pizza. Even three five-inch pizzas are not enough to replace one nine-inch pizza.

This story was posted as a joke. Even so, it effectively underscores how math can be useful not only in school but also in daily life.

Practical, Everyday Applications of Math

You can use math not only to calculate the area of pizzas. You can use math to do the following, among other things.

1.     Grocery Shopping

Compute the cost per unit of items to find the best value when grocery shopping

For instance, you can calculate the cost per milliliter of two variants of the same brand of dishwashing liquid — a one-liter bottle and a quarter-liter bottle — to see which costs less.

2.     Budgeting

You must create a budget to ensure you don’t run out before your next payday. If you wish to see if you will qualify for a loan, you must compute your disposable income and debt burden.

3.     Business Projections

Suppose you need to know how many students must enroll in one term for your school to break even. In this case, you must calculate the costs and determine how many students will cover such costs.

4.     Design

You must apply math to create attractive and balanced graphic and interior designs. In the latter, cost estimation is also required.

5.     Cooking and Baking

If you wish to extend a five-person recipe to a 10-person recipe or reduce a 10-portion recipe to a five-portion recipe, you need to increase or decrease ingredients proportionally.

Multiple Strategies: Helping Make Math Easy

Many people don’t like math and perform poorly at it because they feel anxious about mathematical calculations. Thus, math can be a lot more fun if you can make calculations less intimidating.

Fortunately, there are multiple strategies in math. Just like there are many ways to skin a cat, there are different (equally correct) ways to approach any math problem, and learning them can make one feel more equipped to solve math problems.

How your teacher taught you to add, subtract, divide, and multiply is not the only way to do these things. “Carrying” and “borrowing” pertain to just one approach.

For instance, if you are asked to add 765 and 349, the traditional method requires you to add the digits in the ones place followed by the digits in the tens place and those in the hundreds place.

Thus, you add five and nine first to yield 14. Leave the four in the one’s place, then carry one over the six in the tens place (this becomes seven), then add that to the four below to yield 11. Next, you leave one in the sum, carry one over seven in the hundreds place (so it becomes eight), then add that to the three below to yield 11. Putting the resulting digits together — 11 from the hundreds place, one from the tens place, and four from the one’s place — you get a sum of 1,114.

While this works for many people, there are other ways to do it.

Suppose the above quantities are money, and you were given $765 and $349 in hundreds, tens, and ones. In this case, doesn’t it make sense to count the hundreds and the tens before you even count the singles?

Thus, you’ll add 700 and 300 first to get 1,000, and 60 and 40 to get $100. Finally, you’ll add the five and nine to get 14. That’s 1,000 plus 100 plus 14 or 1,114. It’s the same answer, but you got it in a much less complicated manner.

Indeed, there are numerous strategies you can use to approach calculations in math. Math will be easier if people can learn these multiple strategies and apply what they find most accessible and intuitive. Ensuring children learn these alternative strategies is one of the best reasons for enrolling them in supplementary math classes.

Math Can Be Fun

Children who have math anxiety are unlikely to enjoy math classes. However, math is an important subject, and its usefulness goes beyond academics. There’s no getting around it if you plan to become an engineer who builds houses, buildings, and things like rides in theme parks. You also use math in everyday life.

The key to making math fun is to address math anxiety, and math can be less intimidating to children if they understand there are many math approaches and if they can learn these strategies. If children could pick and use a method they find easy and intuitive, how much more fun would math be?

Jinky Elizan is a content writer for SEO Sherpa. She has more than 15 years’ of experience producing content for SEO, inbound marketing, and link building as well as copy for web pages and social media. She also develops WordPress websites.


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