Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Why Do We Study Math?

The amount of medicine my daughter receives for her Leukemia treatment is based on her body surface area which is estimated based on her height and weight. Her surface area is used to calculate the quantity in milligrams of medication she requires. Imagine how this would be done without mathematics.

Many children ask "Why do I have to learn this?" especially in regards to mathematics. Math without purpose is like learning the alphabet, but not knowing how to speak. 나를 in Korean sounds something like "nadi". Well that's great! We learned a Korean word, but what does it mean? It means me. Math without purpose is something like Korean words, without understanding the meaning.

Math is extremely important. Here are some examples of how math is required for different professions.

Civil Engineers use math to determine how much weight a bridge can support.

Aeronautic Engineers use math to calculate the required thickness of aircraft wing metal to ensure the wings withstand the air pressure while still being light enough to take off from the ground.

Construction Engineers use math to order the appropriate amount of concrete to pour the foundations for buildings.

Farmers use math when estimating the amount of seed to purchase to plant a field.

Seamstresses estimate the amount of fabric to purchase to produce costumes for the actors in plays.

Chemists measure proper volumes of raw materials to match chemical formulas.

Bankers count change, estimate future value of retirement accounts, and calculate loan interest.

Accountants keep track of sales and expenses.

Pharmacists ensure correct weight and volume of medication is given to customers.

Ultra Sound Technicians measure sizes of organs.

Geologists use density to determine mineral composition of earth layers.

Restaurant Owners calculate how much to pay employees, charge for food and still make a profit.

Mechanics estimate the time and materials in terms of a dollar amount to complete a job.

Construction Workers estimate the appropriate quantity of roof shingles needed to complete the job.

Understanding math also helps us through life. I remember traveling through Mexico with my family while I was in high school. When my father purchased gasoline he did a lot of mathematics quickly in his head. The price was in Pesos and sold by the liter, but the pump registered gallons. He estimated approximately how much he should be charged and argued with the sales clerk who tried to double the price. He won the argument and was charged the proper amount. The other friends we traveled with just overpaid.

Another math memory I have from growing up has to do with swimming. The pool at my brother's swim meet was 100 meters long. Typically the pools were 100 yards. The parents were thrilled when my grandfather converted the kids times to equivalent yard times so they knew if their children swam faster or slower than normal.

Living in Germany the temperature is typically given in degrees Celsius, but my brain works better in Fahrenheit. Knowing how to estimate between the two helps me to prepare for tomorrow's weather.

So, understanding basic calculations can help us save money, keeps us from getting ripped off and can help us live with a better understanding of what's happening around us. Here are some more ways many adults use math in their lives.

  • Balancing a Checkbook
  • Living within a Budget
  • Ensuring correct change is received when purchasing items at a store
  • Saving for Retirement
  • Calculating loan interest given a particular interest rate and number of years
  • Estimating the amount of time it will take to arrive at the beach vacation destination

Seeing the application of mathematics is crucial to developing an appreciation for math. Math plays a role in laundry, US Presidential Elections, making English Christmas Pudding, and quilting as well as many other aspects of our daily lives. Providing children with real-life math is motivating and gives math purpose. To see the ways we have explored math with our children please visit our Math Page. Living Math Forum is a free yahoo group where members discuss the creative ways they explore math. I highly recommend it to find more ways to make math meaningful to children.

Now let's see what the other four bloggers participating in the Homeschool Help Series have to say about math.

When Mommy Learned a Lesson - Savannah at Hammock Tracks
Maths in Our Home - Hwee at The Tiger Chronicle
Doing 'Rithmetic - Bernadette at Barefoot Hippie Girl
Should We Teach Math to Young Students? - Chareen at Every Bed of Roses

If you haven't seen the other entries from the Homeschool Help Series be sure to check them out on our Resources Page.

This post is linked to: 
Love 2 Learn 2 Day

1 comment:

  1. Hwey, I just wanted to let you know that I nominated you for a Spread Smiles Award. I really admire you for all you do for your family and I appreciate that you share your ideas with the rest of us! Here's the link to my post about the award: http://squareheadteachers.com/2013/04/22/spread-smiles-award/

    Best wishes,


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