Additional Math Pages & Resources

Monday, April 18, 2011

Sets and Grouping, Part I

One of the interesting things about marriage is learning how differently people think about things. I tend to say I'll have some juice, while my wife says Would you like some orange juice, tomato, grapefruit, cherry juice? With or without sparkling water? Ice or no ice? In a glass or the bottle? Plastic glass or glass glass? Straw or no straw?

More choice is not always better - especially if you hungry and dining with a crowd of people, the server is handing out menus with 50 options, and reciting the 10 daily specials ...

That brings us to the elementary math skill of decision-making by categorizing. We make life more manageable if we can slice, dice, sort and arrange our options into meaningful categories or groupings. In the math world we call these groups "sets."

About 18 months ago I did a blog on an outdoor work clothing website called Duluth Trading Company. If you are indecisive, stay away. If you like choices, this is your place!

NOTE: I have no business connection with DTC although I have purchased about 6 shirts from them.

In the next few blogs I will show how we help kids understand sets, using DTC catalog options are our raw material. The illustrations below show their offerings of MEN'S SHORT SLEEVE T-SHIRTS. Nothing more. No dress shirts, no long sleeves, no women's shirts. I typed these details into a spreadsheet and separated this huge inventory into categories based on type of fabric.

Using our elementary math skills (taught in Excel Math) we can:
  • decide how many combinations of shirts we could wear
  • calculate the total cost of buying one shirt of each style
  • investigate the types of fabrics and speculate on the heaviest or lightest shirts
  • speculate on the inventory requirements or the number of SKUs that DTC uses
  • sort by fabric, collar, sleeve, pocket, color, length, girth and overall size 
Stay tuned for more t-shirt math - and if you need a shirt, go shopping.

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