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Teen Finance


10/27/2007

Teen Finance: Yes, You Do Use Math in Real Life

It is true, you use math at school, work, home, and everywhere in between. While only a few will become the next Pythagoras of Samos (you know him from his famous theorems), all of us will continue to rely on math in our normal day to day.

Math and a Typical Day

Let us pretend Saturday has arrived, and you have the entire day free. No homework, no work, just a whole lot of free time to do as you please. We'll start in the morning so get ready to rise and shine because it is time to break out those math skills!

Math and the Muffin Man

It is nine in the morning and you are hungry for homemade blueberry muffins. Baking, believe it or not, is a science and getting it right relies on precise measurements and exact timing. Plus, there may be times when you have to double a recipe or convert oven temperature from Celsius to Fahrenheit, which would require another dosage of math.

Ready for a brain teaser? One cup equals eight ounces, which equals half a pint, which equals 237 milliliters, which equals 16 tablespoons. Got all that? Knowing how measurements are broken down can also reduce the number of kitchen untensils needed.

Tidy Up with Math

Mid-morning draws near, you've got a few hours to kill and that messy room of yours is making you claustrophobic. One high-speed organizing session should do the trick. Even if you are not one to draw a blueprint ahead of time and map out where everything will go, a little math goes into any organizational plan.

While you may not know the exact square footage of your room, you have a sense of the overall floor and wall space and what they can accommodate. For example, knowing a 10 ft. mirror will not fit on an an 8ft. wall involves a recognition of geometric space. A bedroom is typically comprised of angles, squares and rectangles, foundations of geometry. As you assess these items, you're utilizing geometric principles to make your next move.

And of course, time, another mathematical wonder, factors in to how long you really want or need to spend cleaning your room, which, in all honesty, is probably pretty short.

Loose Change

Your friends call and want you to go to lunch. You are in the middle of cleaning your room, but that can wait till later - after all, you'd kill for a burger, fries, and super-sized fruit smoothie just to stay on the healthy side of things.

A quick glance in your wallet reveals nine, one-dollar bills, enough to cover lunch and a buck or two for gas money. But wait! You remember you took another twenty dollars out of your savings account last week to pay for movie and a dinner. That money was being saved for a fancy winter formal outfit, which is only two months away. As of now you only have two shifts at work in the next couple of weeks.

Personal finance dilemma? Not really. A quick calculation in your head can help figure out where you can pinch and scrimp in the next few weeks to make up for the money taken out of savings. Personal finance relies on simple math including addition, subtraction, and also the ability to forecast if you're saving for future purchases.

Video Game Schooling

Lunch is over and the afternoon lingers on when you realize ample time exists to play the new video game you recently rented. Before you even turn the game on, math has already influenced the situation. The video game was created using a mathematical model that uses specific language to influence a system. Consider this: IBM created The Cell processor for Sony Playstation 3, which is used in conjunction with computers capapble of 1,000 trillion calculations per second. As a player, you are not expected to exhibit those types of math skills, however you likely utilize more math than you even realized.

Gold coins, rupees, hearts, sojs, can all be a matter of life or death - at least for your video game characters. Videogame currency is ubiquitous no matter what world, universe, or dimension in time the storyline occupies. And as the one playing the game, you're required to find the currency, manage it, and spend it on the appropriate items or risk your character's life! Sounds dramatic, but actually, it's quite mathematical. Personal finance principles extend beyond reality and into the gaming world.

And the next time your parents complain about your video game habit, tell them tell this: Video games may improve your ability to comprehend advanced math. Toronto scientists found spatial reasoning improved in men and women after only 10 hours of playing video games. Spatial reasoning skills help our ability to problem solve and understand relationships between objects.

Game O' Golf

The day is over but the night is young and you've decided to spend the evening with pals to play a round or two of miniature golf. Being the competitive type, you want to win. And in order to win, or at least move the ball where it needs to go, you're going to have to include physics in the mix, which is embedded with mathematical principles, to the mix.

Tiger Woods would be no where without Sir Isaac Newton, whose second law of motion factors into how far the golf ball will travel when hit with a club. Newton determined that force equals mass multiplied by acceleration. While you may not calculate the numbers in your head, the principle applies every time you take a swing.

You reach the most challenging stop on the course - the loop! Ever wonder how the golf ball doesn't fall to the ground when it reaches the apex of the loop? Two forces interplay as the ball travels upside down. A centrifugal force causes the golf ball to remain in the loop while gravity pulls it down, or away from the loop. According to Newton's third law of motion, the ball will remain upside down as long as the centrifugal force is greater than gravity.

At the End of the Day...

As the night draws to a close, you hit the sack and slowly close your eyes, visions of numbers and linear graphs enter your mind...wait! Stop right there. Haven't you used enough math today?



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