Math Blog: Wedding Math

wedding

Since I’ve been working on planning my wedding, I thought it might be fun to share a glimpse at how math applies in event planning. It truly is a tool we can use in various situations God places us in!

  • Total Guest Count – One interesting aspect of event planning is figuring out how many people are coming…which involves addition in adding up all the friends and families being invited.
  • Budgets – Trying to plan an event on a budget involves adding up all the expenses and subtracting that from the total you have to spend to see how much you have left to spend (or how much over budget you’ve gone…which could be represented with negative numbers). For example, if you’ve spent $25 + $500 + $120, then you’ve spent a total of $645. If your budget is $1,000, you have $1,000 – $645, or $355 left to spend.
  • Total Cost of ItemsAddition and multiplication are used extensively in figuring out how much you’re really spending on a specific aspect of the wedding. Take table centerpieces for example. Suppose your centerpiece consists of a $2 vase, a $1 candle, and a $1 a flower . It costs $2 + $1 + 1 = $4. If you have 25 tables to put centerpieces on, it will cost a total of $4 x 25, or $100. If you pay 5% (notice the percent!) sales tax on all of that, then the total cost will be $100 x 1.05 = $105.

As you teach math this week, remember to show your students why they’re learning the concepts they’re learning. Math is about much more than passing a test or solving meaningless problems—we want students to understand how to use this tool in their own life so they’ll be equipped for the various tasks God’s given them…and to do so while praising the great Creator whose faithfulness in holding all things together makes math possible in the first place.

Reminder: If you need ideas or help making math come alive, check out our math resources and curriculum.

Free Math Video & Information
Subscribe to our biblical math blog and get a free Transforming Math video.
We respect your privacy.

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!

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.

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).

Math and Traveling (Includes Word Problems)

Math & Traveling

Math & TravelingOn 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.

Happy traveling!

  • 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.

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!

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.

Save

Save

Save

Save