Mathematics has been a subject that many students struggle with. The purpose of math sums is to prepare students for real life. It develops students thinking power and discipline. To motivate the students real life examples or models are used by the teachers. The steps of math problem solving which students generally follow-
- Understand the problem
- Make a plan
- Implement the plan
- Look back for the answer
I would not suggest this method of solving mathematic sums. I rather want you to try the practical applications of math in our daily lives. Numbers play an important role in our everyday decision. When you buy a vehicle, decorate your home, cooking a dish, you are using math. Math can help us to take important decisions like monthly budget, how much to shop, how much to save from salary etc.
To know are chances in particular thing, we measure probability. For example, many people try their luck by buying lottery ticket, many people go to casinos and many people play poker games with their friends. Investing money when there is a chance of loss is just because there is a possibility of winning also. A mathematical principle like probability tells us our chances to win. How do we calculate probability?
Say there are 12 handkerchiefs in your drawer. 5 are blue and 7 are red. If you feel them with your hands and eyes closed and pick 1 handkerchief, what Is the probability of getting blue handkerchief? 5 of the 12 handkerchiefs are blue, so your chances of picking a blue handkerchief are 5 out of 12. We can write this in fraction 5/12. The chances of picking a blue handkerchief are 5 divided by 12, which is 42%.
When we go to bank and deposit money in our saving account, we get some interest by the bank. When we take a loan from bank, we pay interest to the bank along with the borrowed amount. There are two types of interest. Simple and compound. The interest rate collected by the bank when we borrow money is much higher than the interest paid by the bank in saving account.
- Bar graphs
The bar graph makes the complex data easy to understand. For example, the population growth of a country can be shown in such a way that it will be easy to understand that in five years how much population has grown. This information is very important to take decisions. As we say “a picture is worth a thousand words”. This saying represents mathematics very well.
Math is also used when we decorate our home. How? Let us find out. Most interior decorators require a budget to decorate a home. To calculate how much to spend, how much area to cover and how many posters to buy for the walls, here comes the role of mathematics.
Now you must be thinking what the work of geometry needed here. Geometry is used to measure how much carpet you need for your room. To find this a simple formula is needed, which is A=L*W, where A means area L means length and W means width.
- Ratio and proportion
Most of us love cooking. To make a dish, it is very important the ingredients to be in right quantity for good flavor and taste. There is a math concept hidden here. The relationship between two quantities is called Ratio and a proportion exists when you have two equal ratios. If in a recipe we need 1 cup milk and 2 tea spoon of sugar, then the relationship of milk to sugar is 1 to 2. In mathematical way we can write it as ½ or 1:2.
This is ratio. If we are making a rice pudding for 3 people and if we want to make for 9 people, then we must take care the ingredient’s relationship stays the same. Here comes the role of proportion.
Picturing a problem
The most powerful tool to make a student understand about the word problem is to make a picture and diagram. Pictures help them to visualize the problem and they start feeling that the situation is real. Drawing a bar model will help the student to understand the problem. Simple images can be drawn to make them visualize.
One ore method is thinking blocks. It is a student friendly strategy. Through videos, interactive classes and step by step approach make the students understand the problem better.
Let us take an illustration
Michael had 97 coins. He used some coins to buy chocolates. Michael later found 29 more coins in his bag. Now Michael has 74 coins. How many coins did Michael use to buy chocolates?
To solve this problem we can build a model. First block is 97 coins at the start. ______ Coins after the 1st change and then 74 coins after the 2nd change. 97+29-74 gives us an answer 52.
In addition to the mathematic tools, students should build deeper mathematics understanding and they should see mathematics as a discipline.
Students need opportunities to test on the basis of their knowledge in the math community of the classroom to see whether they have understood or not. When there is less confusion, students start understanding and hold their thoughts. This is a ground of future math. Healthy attitudes will then reward them.