Samuel Grev next author in 2016-2017 MLHS senior student editorial series
“When are we ever going to use this in real life?” We may have asked this question of our mathematics teacher at some point with regards to solving quadratics, figuring the sides of a triangle, or even converting a distance in feet to distance in meters. For many, calculus is not necessary for everyday life, but learning how to apply mathematics is important because so many situations require math.
First and foremost, mathematics is a valuable tool in simple, domestic tasks such as cooking and baking, including using recipes, adding the correct number of ingredients, and understanding measurements. When cooking or baking for large groups, people may need to double a recipe, multiply fractions, or convert tablespoons to cups. In addition to cooking and baking, grocery shopping requires math for consumers to hunt for the best deals by comparing price per ounce, calculate what 30% off an item is, and estimate the total cost to stay within a budget. In the same way, a host or hostess can use math to take the number of people times what an average person eats to determine how much food to provide at a gathering of friends or family.
Not only is math involved in daily, domestic activities, but people also use math to manage personal finances, primarily for budgeting. Without budgeting, people may purchase unneeded items and not have the money to pay bills. Effective budgeting involves calculating expenses and incomes and determining the most effective financial plan. In the same manner, taxes require math knowledge and proper calculation of numbers to determine deductions, tax exemptions, and taxable income. Another way math is applicable to personal finances is for future planning, which is similar to budgeting but often extends farther into the future. Developing an estate plan requires math for people to calculate their assets and determine the division of property and finances after their death. Likewise, long-term budgeting lays out cash inflows and outflows per month; this information can then be used to plan for any expenses that may require financial aid.
Unless individuals are Richie Rich and have an unlimited supply of money, they need a career in order to provide them with an income. Obviously, a career in rocket science or engineering requires math to compute complicated equations to calculate the effect of gravity on an object, and an architect must understand angles and be able to calculate structural balance. However, even labor careers require math to count the number of products that need to be shipped or calculate the estimated number of products in a container.
In summary, math can be used domestically for grocery shopping, cooking or baking, and scheduling; for personal financing with budgeting, taxes, and future planning; and for careers from laborer to rocket scientist. The math might be as simple as 1+2=3 or 2×2=4 or as complicated as solving the Fibonacci Sequence, but since most people use some degree of math on a daily basis, learning how to understand and apply mathematics is important.