**Article Summary:** "When you have limited money
and want to go some where with your friends, you have to budget your money
to make sure that you have enough for the whole day. Mental algebra is used
to determine costs of things, options for purchasing gifts, and of course
having money to eat."

We use algebra everyday? That is the million dollar question. It is usually preceded with, "Why do I have to learn this stuff, I am never going to use it?" You are far from correct. Algebra is used everyday, all the time. It is used in problem solving situations when you are trying to determine how long it will take you to get from your home to your friends house. Let's look at an example: You live five miles from your friend's home. Your parents need to drive you, so how long does it take them to get ready? If your parents drive the short way it will take 15 minutes, if there is lots of traffic, then it will take longer. So what time do you tell your friend you will be there if you leave at 4:00 PM. Does this sound familiar to you? Sounds like the old train problem you had school. If the train leaves the station at …..! Guess what, you are using algebra when trying to figure out how long it will take to get to your friend's house and it includes a variable "x" for traffic and time. Let's look at another example: You and some friends are going to build a skate board half pipe. You draw a model to determine how tall and long to make it. You draw various representations of the half pipe from different angles. Then calculate how much wood you will need and what size, so it does not collapse. Then you need to calculate how much material you will need to make the surface of the half pipe smooth. With every one of your calculations you are using algebra. There are lots of variables and you have to use rational numbers to make your calculations - Algebra.
Every time you need to problem solve a situation that involves money, time, distance, perimeter of a fence or skate ramp, volume of something, comparing prices when you shop, rent something - cost versus time, other situations you are using algebra. Algebra teaches you logical reasoning and problem solving skills when it comes to most every situation in life. You have to logically think your way through something to obtain the best results. For example: I want to jump my bike off the ramp a distance of 15 feet. You measure the height of the ramp and length of the run up distance, along with is the wind with your or against you. These are variables and rational numbers that are used in algebra. By the way you will also decide that you can or can not make the jump, logical reasoning helped make the decision. When you play sports you have to mentally determine the angle you throw the ball to make an accurate throw. You now the approximate distance, but you have to determine how much force to apply to your throw. It also applies to soccer, when you are kicking the ball to another player or into the goal. The same mental calculations occur as you consider your options (variables and rational numbers) for making a goal. Algebra in action!
When you have limited money and want to go some where with your friends, you have to budget your money to make sure that you have enough for the whole day. Mental algebra is used to determine costs of things, options for purchasing gifts, and of course having money to eat. Now for the boring stuff, when you finish school and start applying for jobs your possible future employer may give you a test with some math problems on it. They want to know if you can use mathematical skills to solve a problem and the problems will include algebra - problems with variables. Most employers that pay well will not hire you unless you can solve algebra type problems to prove that you have logical and reasoning problem solving skills. |