The Use of Mathematics in Everyday Life

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Even those suffering from math-related anxieties or phobias cannot escape its everyday presence in their lives. From home to school to work and places in between, math is everywhere. Whether using measurements in a recipe or deciding if half a tank of gas will make the destination, we all use math. It is a good idea, therefore, for teachers and parents of reluctant math learners to use real-world examples to ignite a spark of practical interest.

At Home

Some people aren't even out of bed before encountering math. When setting an alarm or hitting snooze, they may quickly need to calculate the new time they will rise. Or they might step on a bathroom scale and decide that they’ll skip those extra calories at lunch. People on medication need to understand different dosages, whether in grams or milliliters. Recipes call for ounces and cups and teaspoons — all measurements, all math. And decorators need to know that the dimensions of their furnishings and rugs will match the area of their rooms.

In Travel

Travelers often consider their miles per gallon when fueling up for daily trips, but they might need to calculate anew when faced with obstructionist detours and consider the additional cost in miles, time and money. Air travelers need to know departure times and arrival schedules. They also need to know the weight of their luggage, unless they want to risk some hefty baggage surcharges. Once on board, they might enjoy some common aviation-related math such as speed, altitude and flying time.

At School and Work

Students can’t avoid math. Most take it every day. However, even in history and English classes they may need to know a little math. Whether looking at time expanses of decades, centuries or eras or calculating how they’ll bring that B in English to an A, they’ll need some basic math skills. Jobs in business and finance may require sophisticated knowledge of how to read profit and earning statements or how to decipher graph analyses. However, even hourly earners will need to know if their working hours multiplied by their rate of pay accurately reflects their paychecks.

At the Store

Whether buying coffee or a car, basic principles of math are in play. Purchasing decisions require some understanding of budgets and the cost and affordability of items from groceries to houses. Short-term decisions may mean only needing to know cash on hand, but bigger purchases may require knowledge of interest rates and amortization charts. Finding a mortgage may be much different from choosing a place to have lunch, but they both cost money and require math.

Pastimes

Even off-time can be math time. Baseball fans know a lot about statistics, whether they’re considering basic win-loss ratios, batting averages or pitchers' earned run averages. Football fans know about yardage gains and passing stats. And individual athletes, whether runners, bikers, sailors or hikers, often have their own ways of charting their progress, from time to mileage to elevation.

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