You Already Know Algebra
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authors from around the world to write for us. Their brief was to scour the Internet and find
interesting and stimulating math topics to write about. The articles do not necessarily represent
our beliefs. They are included here to give you some creative food for thought, so that you can
take them and work with your teachers to build a better math platform and environment for you
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When first learning algebra, most students will look at the confusing jumble of numbers and letters
and wonder why on earth they need to learn it. That is perhaps one of the greater weaknesses of math classes- that
students are not immediately taught how to apply their new formulas and techniques.
Explaining to a frustrated student that algebra is needed for calculus, physics, or engineering
would only discourage her and make her dread those courses. Instead, students need to be shown (not just told) that
algebra is already an integral part of their lives, and that they already use it every day.
Algebra is, at its heart, the manipulation of variables. Variables can be anything from the speed of a train to how
many people are coming to a party. Using algebra allows us to see how different factors affect each other.
Take speed as an example. Speed is the distance traveled divided by the time traveled, or s=d/t. So if we know the
distance and time, we can find the speed. But what if we only know the speed and time, but not the distance?
Well, once you learn basic algebra, you can change around the formula to find the distance.
Another example of algebra in real life is trying to figure out how many pizzas you should order for a party. The
variables are how many people are coming, how many slices of pizza each person will eat, and how many slices are in
each pizza. That type of algebra most people do without even thinking.
The beauty of algebra is that the more advanced you are in algebra, the more detailed and accurate your everyday
calculations can get. Basic algebra can tell you how many boards you need to build a box. Advanced algebra can tell
you how many boards you need to build a house.
Algebra can be applied to anything.
You can use it to calculate time management -
I read 15 pages an hour, so how long do I need to finish this book?
Decide what time you need to leave for a party (it takes twenty minutes to get there, but I have to
stop and buy some ice which will take an extra ten minutes, and I am supposed to be there at seven.
Adjust the size of recipes, this recipe only serves 3, but I want to feed 8, so how much of each
ingredient should I buy?
And figure out how much gas money your friend owes you - how much fuel did I need to put in the car,
how far did we go, what's the cost of gas, and how much had I used on my own?
If you have a hard time figuring out what parts of life are algebra, let Help Me With Math guide you and your child past the confusing
terminology and rules and show both of you the simplicity and common sense of algebra.
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