I know one really big secret that I’ll bet you don’t know. Want to know what it is?
Ready for it?
Here it is…
YOU are a math person! Yes, YOU!
Now, say it three times fast:
I AM a Math Person!
I AM a Math Person!
I AM a Math Person!
You’re probably thinking, “She doesn’t know me…how could she possibly know I’m a math person?” That’s a fair question: how did I know this about you when you may not have even realized it about yourself?
Well, first, let me introduce myself. I am Monica Kendal, Ed.D., the Head Math Tutor at The Brain Domain! I work with students around the Houston to help improve their math skills and confidence. After 20+ years of working in the Houston Independent School District, I have had my fair share of helping students conquer math and realize their true potential. Now, I’m here to help YOU!
I know you are a math person because we all successfully apply mathematical concepts in our daily lives, usually without even realizing we are doing math. Here are some typical, everyday activities where you may be using mathematics and not even realizing it!
- Home decorating: Hanging a picture or rearranging furniture in your home? You may use estimation to “eyeball” the center of the wall where the picture and sofa should go, which is perfectly fine because this “eyeballing” is actually applying spatial-visual reasoning.
- Uh-oh, did the cat knock over the red energy drink onto your brand new white carpet? When you go to Walmart and purchase an area rug to cover the spot, you use measurement reasoning when you take actual measurements to decide which size of rug would fit in the room.
- Furthermore, when you get home, you utilize geometry reasoning to center the rug while ensuring it remains parallel to the walls in the room.
- Managing money: You might think that computers take care of this nowadays, but a computer can’t decide for you whether you have enough money in your bank account to pay for the area rug to cover up the spot on the carpet.
- Determining which is greater, your bank balance or the cost of the rug, utilizes the skill of comparing numbers, which is a form of numerical reasoning.
- Entertaining: Now that you have hung the picture, perfectly arranged the sofa, and placed the rug just right to cover the spot on the carpet, it’s time to plan for friends and neighbors to come enjoy your beautiful new entertainment room.
- How many people can you afford to feed and entertain? Making these calculations not only involves numerical reasoning, but also involves the problem-solving skills of making a list of things to purchase, drawing a diagram of where all of the food and drink items will be placed and still have room to seat your guests, and working backwards from your budget to decide whether you have enough left over to purchase the pay-per-view event.
- Managing your health: Still tired from staying up late to plan for the big party? You’re using numerical reasoning again to set the alarm, press the snooze button a few times, and calculate how to make it in to work on time.
- Wake up with a sore back from moving the sofa? Determining how much Advil to take, when to take it, and when to take it again also uses numerical reasoning and problem-solving skills.
- Shopping: Oops, ran out of Advil? You decide to make a trip to the drug store on the way home after work, but first, you use problem solving, estimation, and financial literacy to decide how you will pay for it.
- You think to yourself, “I have a $20 bill…is that enough to pay for a bottle of Advil, a gallon of milk, a pair of socks to wear tonight when I exercise, and a birthday card for my friend? Or, do I need to use my debit card, which I don’t really want to do since the rent payment is coming out of the bank account tomorrow and payday isn’t until next week?”
- As you roam the aisles of the store, you discover that a bottle of Advil is about $11, a gallon of milk is about $4, a pair of socks is about $7, and a beautiful birthday card for special friend is about $5.
- Drat! The cost of those items exceeds your $20 bill by about $7. Instead, you decide to buy the store brand of Advil for about $4 and a less expensive but no less from-the-heart birthday card for your friend for about $3…gratefully finding that you have just enough for sales tax.
- Traveling: After shopping at Walmart, going to work, and stopping at the drug store on the way home, you see the fuel indicator in your car light up. You recall that your budget for gasoline this week is only $30 since you have put some of your gasoline money aside to help pay for the big party you are having.
- As you pump the gasoline into your car, you use proportional reasoning to determine, “I have $30, and gas costs $2.95/gallon, so I can put about 10 gallons of gas into my car.”
- Then as you get into your car, you realize that you are almost too late in getting home to catch the season finale of your favorite TV show (the show that you forgot to record as you went flying out the door to work because of all those snoozes you set on your alarm…).
- You might also wonder, “How fast can I travel to get home without going over the speed limit and without the car sucking up all of the gas I just spent $30 to fill it up with?” Maximizing your speed to minimize your time while maximizing your gas mileage uses not only problem-solving skills, but also uses calculus!
- Yes, Virginia, You’re Using Calculus! You are also applying calculus concepts as you hurry home when trying to decide if you have enough road to pass the turtling car ahead of you before crashing into the on-coming vehicle, how fast you can go around the curve up ahead and not crash into the retaining wall, and how long you can wait to brake before you rear-end the stalled car up ahead.
- Of course, the car’s computer may be calculating your car’s miles per gallon for you, but you are watching the display on the dashboard to see which speed will get you the best miles per gallon while using probability reasoning to calculate the chances you will get you home (safely!) in time to record your TV show (but you can’t watch it now because you’re going to exercise, remember…the new socks you just bought…).
And not only is exercise good for your health, but it also uses lots of math, keeps your brain healthy, and sharpens all of its functions so that you can…guess what…keep improving those math abilities that, until now, you didn’t even know you had!
You go, Math Person!!
For help to improve your math skills, please visit our Tutoring Page. We would love the opportunity to help you build confidence!