Real World Math

Barbara J. Feldman

In honor of April’s status as Math Education Month, I’m starting off the month with a look at how math is used in our everyday lives. Like the little girl in Jon Scieszka’s Math Curse who wakes up to find everything in her world has turned into a math problem, once you go looking for it, you will find math everywhere.

  • Annenberg Learner: Math in Daily Life5 stars

    "When you buy a car, follow a recipe, or decorate your home, you're using math principles. People have been using these same principles for thousands of years, across countries and continents. Whether you're sailing a boat off the coast of Japan or building a house in Peru, you're using math to get things done." This essay for teens and adults explores the ubiquity of math. Hidden within each section you'll find interactive activities such as a worksheet to determine whether you should lease or buy a car, and a savings calculator that demonstrates the power of compound interest.

  • Figure This!5 stars

    Created by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Figure This! helps families with middle-school students "enjoy mathematics outside school through a series of fun and engaging, high-quality challenges." The activities are organized by topic (such as Algebra, Geometry and Measurement) under the heading Math Index. To print the challenges, follow the Printing the Challenges link (from any of the challenges) for a list of PDF files in your choice of color or black and white.

  • Get the Math5 stars

    Get the Math uses video and interactive activities "to help middle and high school students develop algebraic thinking skills for solving real-world problems." Learn how professionals in music, fashion, basketball and special movie effects use math, and then try your hand at an interactive challenge related to that career. "Manny Dominguez and Luis Lopez of DobleFlo talk about how their duo got started, how they use math in producing hip-hop music, and set up a music-related algebra challenge."

  • We Use Math4 stars

    "The most common question students ask math teachers at every level is ‘When will I use math?' is a non-profit website that helps to answer this question." We Use Math is filled with fun math tidbits (Hypatia of Alexandria is the first recorded mathematician circa 400 AD), career snapshots, and advice on how to succeed in math. There is also a Teacher Resource section with puzzles, problems, games, curriculum ideas, and a list of other useful sites.

  • Why Do Math5 stars

    "Mathematical and computational analyses have proved to be uniquely insightful for solving a myriad of problems in science, society and our everyday lives. WhyDoMath highlights solutions to many of these problems in an engaging, layered, multimedia website and shows that an undergraduate mathematics education can be an entryway to rewarding and engaging career opportunities." For high-school and college students, these math problems include an introduction to Google Page Rank, Space Travel and Neuroscience.

  • Honorable Mentions

    The following links are either new discoveries or sites that didn't make it into my newspaper column because of space constraints. Enjoy!

    Cite This Page

  • Feldman, Barbara. "Real World Math." Surfnetkids. Feldman Publishing. 25 Mar. 2014. Web. 4 Dec. 2014. < >.

  • About This Page

  • By . Originally published March 25, 2014. Last modified March 25, 2014.

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