Tuesday, January 4, 2011

How I personally use the math we teach

I want to list some of the things in my life TODAY that are requiring me to use the skills we present to  elementary math classes with our Excel Math curriculum. And since we are talking about numbers, I'll make a numbered list instead of bullets.

At this point I should remind you that in addition to numbers (pun) we also cover time, dates, calendars, reasoning and logic, problem-solving, geometry, etc. etc.

Here we go:

1. I am working on some use tax issues. I need to add the price of items I've purchased, get a sub-total, calculate 8.75% of the total, calculate 10% of the total, add those two percentages to the sub-total, calculate another 10% of THAT number, and so on.
2. I'm executor for an estate. I'm required to keep track of all my time spent sorting out its affairs. Once I've done all the work I can multiply the hour total by an hourly rate and present my bill to the lawyers.
3. Keeping track of my hours could be done easily with a software program. I checked the Apple App store to find one for my iPhone but it turns out there are hundreds available and most score 2 or less out of 5 on the rating system. I want a program that's rated better than 40% and I don't have time or energy to test them myself.
4. The assets of the estate include some gold and silver coins and jewelry. I have to get all these things appraised and then decide how to sell them to get the best return.
5. In addition to the jewelry there are other assets in this estate. I did an inventory. I made a spreadsheet to track the items and get a total value that can be divided among the four heirs.
6. We went on vacation over the holiday and I could add up all the receipts and see what we spent (or I might not).
7. Because we went to 4 different countries, I have come home with dollars, pounds and euros. I'd like to know the total value of the cash I have left, so I'll need to count the money (and figure out which coins are which), look up the exchange rates for each currency, then do the conversions and add to get the total.
8. The maintenance light on my car came on last night. I need to look at the mileage and check the owner's manual to see what tasks must be performed (and whether the work is scheduled to be done at a certain mileage or an interval of days).
9. It's time to pay some bills, which requires logging onto my bank website, entering lots of numbers and letters, then selecting the bills, transferring the money, and making sure the funds get there on time (and there's cash available to pay them).
10. I have an appointment later this afternoon that is 20 miles away. I need to calculate an estimate of the time it will take to get there, so I will know when to leave here and head out for the appointment.
To be honest, I use math all the time, whether I am working on the math curriculum or not. None of this stuff is rocket science, but it uses all the tricks I've learned in math classes as a kid.

And now it's time for me to go to that appointment!