Math Tax Worksheet for Students

Math & Taxes

Math & TaxesWith Federal income taxes nearly due, I thought it might be fun to put together a worksheet you can use with students to let them apply math to filing taxes.

Download Math Tax Worksheet

The worksheet is an extremely simplified version of the 1040, with instructions and pretend numbers for students to use. To use it, students need to know multi-digit addition and subtraction, along with rounding (although you could round the numbers for them if needed).

Please let me know if you find the worksheet helpful. A few of you have suggested that I send out ready-to-go worksheets, so I thought I would give it a try.

Remember, one of the goals in teaching math is to equip students to use math in their own lives to complete various tasks. God created man to work, and math is a tool that can help us in that. We can use math because He gave us the ability; thus we, unlike animals, can even file income taxes. And since income taxes are due each year, it’s an example of how math helps us with real-life tasks.

Math Curriculum & Facebook Q&A

We’ve got math curriculum for elementary to algebra and geometry to help you teach math in a way that connects it with God’s creation and real-life tasks.

Have questions about any of it? Let me know–I’d love to answer them. I’m planning to do a Facebook Live Q&A sometime this week (follow our Facebook page for exact timing and to watch the recording afterwards) and will be addressing lots of common questions there too. Hope you can join in!

Free Math Video & Information
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Pi Day Is March 14

March 14 (i.e., 3/14) is also known as Pi Day.

Pi, which begins 3.14, is a number that has long fascinated people, as it keeps going and going and going. In other words, it’s a number we can’t even fully describe, yet at the same time, it’s useful in an amazing number of situations (including in helping us measure circles).

Pi reminds us of our limited knowledge (we can’t even fully describe parts of God’s creation) and should cause us turn in awe and wonder at God’s greatness!

Yet instead, many get lost focusing on the number pi itself–worshiping the creation rather than the Creator (Romans 1:20-23).

For more thoughts on pi, check out “Thoughts on Pi,” as well as this lesson from Principles of Mathematics. They both have information you could share with your students now or whenever you cover pi; you could also have students apply pi themselves by finding the circumference of a few circles…or, for older students, by using one of the many physics formulas that utilize pi (see this Wikipedia list for ideas). Update: NASA has put together a Pi Day Challenge that shows just how useful pi is! Note that NASA does not come from a biblical worldview, so please use discernment (while most problems looked great, one at least hinted at finding life on other planets).

When looking at pi or any area of math, remember to point students to the Creator and not to the creation itself.

Reminder: We’ve got a lot of math resources (and even curriculum) to help you teach math as a real-life tool that points to the Creator.

Please share this post with your friends to help them see God’s handiwork in math too!

Super Bowl, Super Football Math

Football Math

Football MathHere are a few examples of how you can use the Super Bowl to show your students that math really does apply outside of a textbook.

We learn math, not just to pass a test, but to be equipped to use it to help us in tasks God’s given us here on earth (and to behold His glory and faithfulness in holding all things together—see God and Math?).

Believe it or not, the Super Bowl was replete with examples of math in action.

  • The Super Bowl Name – Notice the Roman numeral in Super Bowl LII. The Super Bowl name (along with the first quarter, second quarter, first down, second down, etc.) is an example of ordinal numbers.
  • The Team Jerseys – Perhaps the most obvious numbers on the field are those on the team jerseys. There’s an example of how we can use numbers like names—in this case, to identify different players.
  • The Field – Yep, there are numbers on the field itself (50-yard line, etc.), and distance is constantly measured throughout the game. How far of a field goal needs kicked? How much distance left to go to get to the next first down? In a more background way, laying out the football field itself required measurements. And how much grass is needed? Or paint? Again, measuring (think geometry) in action!
  • Confetti (and Other Costs and Profits) – So how much confetti was needed to fire off at the end of the game? And how much would it cost? How much did everything at the Super Bowl cost altogether? How much was brought in through ticket sales? Math can help us answer these behind-the-scenes questions.
  • The Ads – A lot of math goes on behind the scenes when it comes to ads. Below are a few examples.
    • How much money did NBC receive in advertising? If you knew the price of the ads sold, that could be calculated using addition. (In 2017, one source said it was around 385 million.)
    • When deciding if they should buy an ad, companies use math to help them compare different options. One useful measurement often used to compare options and develop an overall advertising plan is Gross Rating Points (GRPs), which is found by multiplying two different measurements together.[1] One can also look at how much the ad costs per thousand people it reaches, which is found by dividing the cost of the ad by the total people reached (in thousands).[2]
    • How much does an ad cost altogether? That would take adding up the cost of making the ad, the actual cost of buying the ad space, etc.
    • Is the ad a good ad to run? There’s no perfect way to tell this, but there are a lot of ways to try…and math can help. For example, one could test the ad before paying millions to air it in the Super Bowl. One testing method called the MSW* ARS shows ads (inside programs) to a sample group of people. Ads are given a score based on subtracting the percent that was for the target brand after the ad with the percent that was for the target brand before the ad (in other words, seeing the difference the ad made).[3]
    • Was the ad effective? Again, there’s no perfect way to measure this, but there are a lot of ways to try. Marketers use numerous formulas when evaluating sales and advertising to try to make sure that their advertising is really making a difference in sales.
  • The Graphics – Numerous graphics were introduced throughout the game. While we don’t often think of math and graphic design in the same sentence, graphic design often does use math. Not only does the computer program(s) used in designing use a lot of math behind the scenes, but graphic designers often use math to help position items, scale them, determine proportions, etc. Oh, and colors are specified using—you guessed it—numbers.
  • Statistics – What was the average cost of a 30-second Super Bowl ad? What is the football player’s percent complete? How many yards has the quarterback thrown so far (this would require adding)? And a host of other stats that use numbers (and addition to find those numbers)!
  • The Special Effects – Think of all the work that went in behind the scenes into coordinating various special effects. Math likely had a part in a lot of it: the angles of the lights, the levels of the various microphones (yes, math helps us measure audio levels too!), etc.

A lot goes in to an event like the Super Bowl—including a lot of math. The list above is by no means exhaustive, but hopefully it will get you (and your students) thinking.

Math’s much more than a textbook exercise—it’s a real-life tool we can use while praising the Creator.

Reminder: We’ve got a lot of math resources (and even curriculum) to help you teach math from this perspective.


[1] J. Craig Andrews and Terence A. Shimp, Advertising, Promotion, and Other Aspects of Integrated Marketing Communications, 10th ed. (Boston, MA: Cengage Learning, 2018), p. 348.[2] Ibid., p. 356.

[3] Ibid., p. 386-388.

Weather Prediction & Math
– Plus God’s Handiwork in Snowflakes

With a lot of the U.S. facing cold temperatures and snow recently, I thought it might be a good time to write about how math helps us explore the weather.

  • Basic Math & the Weather – Have you ever noticed how many times numbers appear in news reports on the weather? Consider this recent ABC News article on the storm currently plowing through the East Coast. The number of flights canceled, the amount of snow collected, a comparison with previous snow records, wind measurements, temperatures—reporting on all of these things uses basic math and numbers.
  • Algebra, Calculus, & Predicting the Weather – One question a lot of parents and teachers get when it comes to math—especially algebra and upper math—is why it’s needed. Well, to help us predict the weather is one answer! We use lots of algebra and upper math in exploring the weather. For a simple explanation of the use of super computers and equations in weather prediction, see NOAA’s “Weather Prediction: It’s Math!” For more details, see EDN’s “The Math of Meteorology.”

The weather is just one example of how math isn’t a dry textbook exercise—it’s a way to describe God’s creation and help us with real-life tasks.

Biblical Math ResourcesP.S. Math can be a lot more fun (and make a lot more sense) when students understand why they’re learning what they’re learning and see it in context with real life and science. We offer curriculum and supplemental resources to help you transform math this year.

Bonus: God’s Handiwork in Snowflakes
Math might not be the first thing you think of when you see snow, but believe it or not, math helps us describe God’s handiwork in each tiny snowflake. Check out our previous blog post on “Snowflake Math.

Spiders, Math, & the Creator

It’s hard to watch a spider spinning its web without being awed at how carefully he engineers something so fragile, yet so strong.

When we look at spider webs using math, the awe simply compounds. Did you know that “the spider web is actually comprised of numerous radii, a logarithmic spiral (given by the polar equation r=ae^{bθ} ) and the arithmetic spiral (given by the polar equation r = a+bθ )”1?

(Video courtesy of Julie G.; used with permission.)

Nature worded it this way: “Spider webs themselves are characterized by a highly organized geometry that optimizes their function.”2

Spiders are yet one more example of how as we use math to explore God’s creation, we’re awed at the Creator’s wisdom and care. God designed spiders to spin these marvelous structures!

And we should be grateful He did. While spiders can certainly be spooky, they serve an incredible purpose. In his video Spiders! Ogres, Allies & Architects3, creation speaker Mike Snavely points out that if spiders were to take a vacation, the world would be overrun with insects. He actually uses math to better help us appreciate this fact.

In the video, Snavely looked with the viewer at the results of a study of how many ounces of insects one specific type of spider eats on average per day, and at another study done in Holland estimating the average number of spiders in each square yard. Then using basic arithmetic and some more facts (such as the size of Holland, the size of the world compared to Holland, the average weight of a person, etc.), he walks through how one could arrive at an estimate that spiders consume bugs that would equal the weight of 10,000,000 people per day! [Note: There’s no way to perfectly estimate something like this, but, as Snavely points out, “even if this number is exaggerated by a factor of 3 or even 4, that’s still a staggering number of bugs per day.” And other research indicates that the 10,000,000 number may even be a conservative estimate. It’s safe to say that spiders eat a LOT of bugs…and math helps us get a better idea of the magnitude of how much these little creatures eat!]

Now aren’t you glad God made spiders such incredible engineers? He knew that in a fallen world, we’d need these little creatures to keep the insect population down.

I loved how Snavely actually walked through the math (which was simple arithmetic) behind the estimate of how many bugs spiders eat. While many times science books or resources only quote a final number on a topic, know that math is involved in calculating the numbers you encounter in science. Math is truly the tool we use to explore God’s creation.

Here are a couple of ideas you can use to use math to explore God’s handiwork in spiders:

  • Have your student draw a spider web. (You can find various instructions online; here are 3 Ways to Draw a Spider Web.) As they draw, point out that we call what they’re drawing “line segments,” “angles,” etc. Depending on your student’s ages, you could also talk about the names we use to describe different types of angles (such as acute and right) that they are drawing. Math helps us name God’s creation. You could also have them pull out a protractor and measure some angles.
  • With older students, have them take a look at the spirals in many spider webs.
  • Head for a walk and find a spider web. Use a protractor to estimate some of the angles (being careful not to disrupt the web).
  • Read this article by Institute for Creation Research about God’s design on display in spider webs, and take a moment to thank God together for His wisdom and care over each detail.
  • Watch Mike Snavely’s Spiders!. You’ll be wowed by these amazing little creatures…and the even more amazing God Who created them. Plus, you’ll get to see an amazing example of math in action.

Reminder:  If you’re looking for a math curriculum that incorporates real life examples (including spiders!) so students see math in connection with God’s creation, be sure to check out Principles of Mathematics.
Principles of Mathematics


References:

[1] Alicia Bautista, “Spider Webs: Creepy or Cool?” (Math Projects, 2015), http://recursiveprocess.com/mathprojects/index.php/2015/06/09/spider-webs-creepy-or-cool/ (June 17, 2015 update).

[2] S.W. Cranford, et al., “Nonlinear Material Behaviour of Spider Silk Yields Robust Webs,” Nature. 482 (7383), 72-76. Quoted in Brian Thomas, “The Masterful Design of Spider Webs” Acts & Facts. 41 (4): 16. 2012, http://www.icr.org/article/masterful-design-spider-webs/

[3] Mike Snavely, Spiders! Ogres, Allies & Architects (Mission: Imperative!, 2015).

Solar Eclipse, Math, & Praising the Creator

This upcoming Monday, August 21, 2017, be prepared for a period of darkness in the middle of the day as we experience a solar eclipse.

While solar eclipses occur periodically, it’s rare that the entire United States can view it. According to Time and Date, the last time “a total solar eclipse was visible from coast to coast was almost 100 years ago, on June 8, 1918.”

This short article by Kahn Academy offers a brief overview of a solar eclipse. NASA’s website on the eclipse is complete with information, along with a page of math challenges.

Math challenges? Yes. Math is the tool that we use to explore God’s creation—including the movement of the heavenly bodies overhead. While we can easily read online dates and times that the eclipse will occur in different parts of the world, it’s worth noting that math was used to predict those dates and times. You see, God governs creation so predictably and reliably that we can use math to know ahead of time when something like an eclipse will take place.

It is fascinating to go back and read the works of Johannes Kepler, known for discovering the Laws of Planetary Motion (i.e., mathematical ways of describing the consistent way God causes planets to orbit the sun). His work (which contains a lot of math, by the way) is interspersed with praises to the Creator, such as this one:

Crying out with the royal Psalmist: Great is our Lord and great His virtue and of His wisdom there is no number…To Him be praise, honour, and glory, wourld without end. Amen.[1]

As we experience the eclipse Monday, may we pause and praise the great Creator, exclaiming with the Psalmist:

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof. Psalm 19:1-6 (KJV)

I hope you’ll have fun learning a little about the eclipse (see the links above to get started) and how we use math to help us describe the movement of the sun, earth, and moon (look for words like angles, elliptical, etc., as you read). And then as you’re wowed by the ellipse Monday, remember how much greater the Creator is…and that, though our sin earns us His wrath, He took that punishment upon Himself (1 Peter 2:24) and offers us eternal life with Him forever (John 3:16; John 17:3). Is there someone you know with whom you could share that incredible news?

Reminder: If you’re looking for a curriculum that teaches math in such a way that students leave math praising the Creator and using math as a real-life tool to describe His creation, be sure to check out Principles of Mathematics. We also have resources available to help you bring that perspective for other grades.


[1] Stephen Hawking, ed. On the Shoulders of Giants: The Great Works of Physics and Astronomy. Philadelphia: Running Press Book Publishers, 2002, pg. 1157.

Why, Oh, Why Must I Learn Math?

I recently asked some folks this question:

What are you/your children’s biggest struggles in math?

The responses varied (stay tuned for others in future blogs), but several voiced the same struggle: why.

Knowing why you need to learn something certainly doesn’t seem like too much to expect. It’s actually a very reasonable question. As Alfred North Whitehead said, “There can be nothing more destructive of true education than to spend long hours in the acquirement of ideas and methods that lead nowhere.”

So why math? Well, math is a way of describing the consistent manner in which God holds His creation together. Thus it helps us work with the world around us—from everyday tasks to sending men to the moon. It helps us complete various tasks that God gives us to do here on earth.

For example, fractions give us a handy way of describing division, helping us work with real-life relationships. Oh, and don’t forget that music notes, sewing, and cooking all use fractions! (There’s more on the why of fractions in my previous post “Why Learn Fractions?”)

One mother shared that her child wondered why finding the area of triangles matters. While triangles might not at first appear to be the most practical shape, they can actually help us measure such real-life distances as the height of a building and the distance across a stream. (In fact, that’s exactly what students learn to do in Principles of Mathematics while studying triangles.) As for finding their area, triangles also help us measure other shapes. For example, if we want to find the area of a hexagon (which is what bees make their honeycombs out of), we would use triangles to do it. Triangles—along with the rest of geometry—are incredibly practical!

For those of you wondering the “why” of high school math, I recently had an article published in The Old Schoolhouse magazine on that exact topic. You can read “What’s the Purpose of High School Math?” online (note: it may take a minute to load)…and I’d love if you’d then leave a comment here and let me know what you think.

And for those wondering how to teach math in such a way that your students will understand why they’re learning each skill they study, check out the math resources I wrote specifically to help students understand math’s true purpose…and to praise the Creator of all as they study. After all, math applies because Jesus is upholding all things by the power of His Word (Hebrews 1:3) in such a predictable way that we can describe it mathematically! Math, when properly taught, should encourage us to trust Him more and more.

Have a specific math topic you’d like to know the “why” of? Leave it as a comment!

Why Do I Have to Learn That?

Photo credit: Ignacio Sanz via Visual hunt / CC BY-SA

I recently looked at various college math materials, and they reminded me why so many students hate math. If I didn’t know better, I would have thought math was a meaningless set of rules I had to memorize—a subject designed to give me a headache.

However, nothing could be further from the truth! While math does have a lot of rules, there’s a purpose to it! Those rules help us describe and explore God’s creation.

As one example, consider the branching pattern of trees. Did you know that math helps us describe it? Well, it does! Fractal geometry helps us describe the branching pattern of trees, as well as many other aspects of God’s creation. (To learn more, check out the blog post I recently wrote about fractal geometry and trees over on the Creation Club website.)

Many students grow up thinking they hate math because they’ve never really been taught what math is. They’ve not seen it as a practical tool that helps us explore God’s creation and complete the tasks He’s given us to do.

If you have a student(s) that dislike math, try stepping back from the mechanics for a bit and showing math in action. Help them understand why what they’re learning matters. If you need some ideas, check out the sample pages from Revealing Arithmetic, Principles of Mathematics 1, and Principles of Mathematics 2. While the samples are designed to give you a flavor for the materials, some of the ideas can be used on their own with students even if you don’t purchase the materials.

Along those lines, here’s a simple challenge: make a list this week with your student(s) of all the ways you see math used (including simple ways, such as the numbers on a clock or microwave). You both might be surprised.


Principles of Mathematics

Need help teaching students math with a purpose?
Check out the Principles of Mathematics curriculum!

We just started using Principles of Mathematics 1 with our 7th grader. This particular 7th grades despises math. The previous years have been filled with tears, frustration and always asking the question “why do we need math?”. After hours and hours of searching, I found Masterbooks and Principles of Mathematics. I picked it because IT EXPLAINS WHY WE DO MATH!!! YAY!!! Our 7th grader was skeptical at first but after just a couple days he CHOSE to switch from the year schedule to the accelerated schedule. Woo Hoo! He enjoys doing math. So thankful!

 

Back-to-School Math Encouragement and Free Resources

Transforming Math

It’s the time of year again where many of you may be heading back to school after a summer break.

Here are some free resources to help encourage/equip you to teach math from a biblical worldview as you go.

  • Free Transforming Math Video – Watch this 18-minute video to get a glimpse into how biblical principles really can transform math, making it an exciting exploration of God’s creation. When you sign up for the video, you’ll also get a free read-aloud story that illustrates how often we really do use numbers, and a series of emails with other information and reminders to help you teach from a biblical worldview.
    Transforming Math
  • Math, Lightning, & Thunder – I recently blogged over on The Creation Club about how we can use math to help us approximate the distance to a lightning strike. Even a summer thunderstorm gives us an opportunity to explore God’s creation and marvel at God’s greatness (after all, He’s the one who makes the lightening and brings forth the wind – see Jeremiah 51:16).
  • Upcoming Articles – I have articles coming out this fall/winter in both the Old Schoolhouse Magazine and Homeschool Enrichment. If you get either of those magazines, be sure to take a look.
  • Sample Lessons – Watch a free preview of a lesson on place value, one on fractions, and one on lines and angles.
Note: If you’ve found these resources helpful, please share with a friend.

Math All Around: Garden Hoses and Circumferences

Garden hoses–they’re a common summer sight.

But have you ever wondered whether your hose would reach the flower bed on the other side of the driveway…and wanted to find the answer without having to unwind the hose?

Assuming your hose is wound up in circles, you can use math to find the approximate length of the hose, which would tell you if it’s worth trying to reach that flower bed.

First, measure the diameter of (or the distance across) each of the circles the hose is wound in (they may not all be exactly the same, but we’re looking for a rough idea here).

circle-hose

If the diameter of each circle is about 2 ft, then the circumference of each circle is approximately 3 x 2 ft, or 6 ft, as the circumference equals pi (which we’re rounding to 3 to make the math easier to do in our head) times the diameter.

Circumference = pi x diameter

Circumference = 3 x 2 ft = 6 ft

This means that every time the hose is wound into a circle, it takes about 6 ft of hose.

Now we can count how many times the hose is wound into a circle and multiply that by 6 ft to find the length of hose. If the hose is wound into 10 circles, then we’d know there’s about 10 x 6, or 60 ft, of hose.

Now of course, we’re only approximating the length of the hose. The circles a hose is wound into are likely not all exactly the same size. And we approximated pi to 3, when it’s really a number that begins 3.14 and continues on and on. But often, getting an approximate answer is all we really need. It can give us an idea of whether a hose will extend to that distant flower bed…or let us know about what size hose we’d need to buy to replace it.

Understanding the relationship between the diameter and circumference of a circle applies in more places than you might initially think! In fact, this example was inspired by a man who shared how he uses math on his construction job to estimate the amount of material left on a roll. Remember that math is a tool we can use to help us describe God’s creation and complete the tasks He’s given us to do.


Imagine learning math in connection with real-life applications…all while building a biblical worldview!

Imagine if students really understood algebra and why they needed to learn it.

Well, now they can! Katherine’s newest curriculum covers the core concepts of algebra in a way that leaves students understanding why they’re learning what they’re learning and how it points to the Lord.

 Watch the short video to learn more.

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