On a recent flight, I was reminded of how often we use math when traveling without even thinking about it. Below are a few examples (complete with example word problems) of math in action while on a flight–many of the same ideas would apply to car trips as well.
So if you’re traveling this summer, you can use the trip to remind your children how math isn’t a mere textbook exercise. It’s a way of describing the quantities and consistencies God created and sustains around us–and as such, it’s a useful, real-life tool.
- How Much Will This Airplane Ticket Cost? There’s the ticket price…and then there are the taxes, fees, baggage cost, etc., that get added on top. How much is the ticket really costing altogether? To answer that, you need–drum roll please–math! Simply add all the costs together to find the total. Example Word Problem: An airplane ticket costs $119.98, plus $5.50 and $4.78 in taxes and fees. You also need to check 1 bag, which costs $20. What is the total cost? Answer: $119.98 + $5.50 + $4.78 + $20.00 = $150.26
- What Time Should I Get Up to Make My Flight? How early should we set that alarm for? Math can help us decide!
Example Word Problem: If it takes you 1 hour to get ready and 30 minutes to get to the airport, and you want to be at the airport 2 hours before your flight leaves at 9 am, what time should you wake up? Answer: You need to get up 3 hours and 30 minutes before your flight (1 hour + 30 minutes + 2 hours = 3 hours and 30 minutes), which would be at 5:30 am.
- How Much Longer Do we Have Left? At the beginning of the flight, the pilot will often announce how long the flight will be. But after an hour goes by, how long is left? Again, you can use math to figure it out. Example Word Problem: If the flight is 2 hours and 45 minutes long, and you’ve been in the air now for 1 hour, how long in the flight do you have left? If it’s 3 pm right now, at what time should the plane land? Answer: Since you’ve completed 1 hour out of 2 hours and 45 minutes, you still have 1 hour and 45 minutes left, so that would mean the plane should land around 4:45 pm.
- What Time Is It Back Home? Now that you’ve reached your destination, you want to call back home and let them know you’re safe. What time is it back there? Use math to figure it out! Example Word Problem: If it’s 5 pm in California and you want to call back home to Maryland, what time is it in Maryland if Maryland is 3 hours ahead of California? Answer: 8 pm
Tip: If the example word problems given are too advanced for your child, round the numbers used. For example, in the first word problem, change the cost of the ticket to an even $120, the fees to $6, etc., so as to avoid any decimals. By rounding or changing prices, you can simplify real-life situations so that younger students can begin applying math at their level.