M is for Math is all around

There are people who actually don’t understand that math is everywhere.

I have this friend Bruce who turned 70 late last year. I’ve only known him for about a decade, so I didn’t know him when he was raising his children. At his party, I learned that one of the primary messages to his kids was that “math is everywhere.” I definitely believe that.

I’ve been hooked on numbers ever since I realized that if you add up the digits in a long number and the total adds up to 9, the number is divisible by 9. Obviously, that same number, if even, is divisible by 18. If it ends with a 5, is divisible by 45, and if it ends with a zero, is divisible by 90. My daughter thinks multiplying by 9 is cool too. You multiply by 10, then subtract the number you multiplied by. So 7X9=7X10-7X1=70-7=63.

I was also fascinated that 5X5=25 and 6X4=24, 6X6=36 and 7X5=35, et al. Thus Y squared =(Y+1) (Y-1) +1. So I know if 123 squared=15129, then I know that 124×122=15128. My daughter is starting to figure this out, too.

Speaking of The Daughter, this problem in her third-grade math homework really bugged me. How many combinations of pennies and dimes are there that will total 45 cents? The given answer was four, but I contend there are five: 4 dimes and 5 pennies, 3 dimes and 15 pennies, 2 dimes and 25 pennies, 1 dime and 35 pennies, and 0 dimes and 45 pennies; the last was deemed wrong, but the wording of the question was vague enough that I would dispute that.

Loved this CBS News story about geometry and pasta: “People may think more about the taste of pasta than its shape. Architects and chefs, however, find much beauty in the design of different pastas.”

I learned to do square root by hand in school. Now I can find it on a $5 calculator in two seconds. I still try to do it manually, though, just because I can.

One of my regrets is that, when one goes bowling, they’ve taken away the ability to figure out the score myself.

There are people who actually don’t understand that math is everywhere. The old recipe book says that I require 10 32 ounce cans for a bunch of lasagna I’m making. But they don’t make 32-ounce cans anymore, they only make 28-ounce cans. How many cans will I need?

Paula Scott explains that the Snellen eye chart is based on geometry.

Old math joke: why is 6 afraid of 7? Because 7 , 8(ate), 9!

Studies show that math is easier if you’ve memorized the easy stuff.

The poem Problems by Langston Hughes.

Someone has found a prime number with 17,425,170 digits.

Of course, I CAN be obsessive. I play license plate math. I see a plate, and it’s usually divided into two parts. I try to calculate each side down to a more common factor. Since there are so many letters, I assign them values. The Roman numerals stay the same. Then I attribute values to other letters as needed. Example: ABC 12345 becomes ABC=12345. C is 100 so AB(100)=12345, AB=123.45; B kinda looks like 13, so A(13)=123.45, which is some number less than 10, but greater than 9. (It’s actually 9.49615385, but I’m doing this in my head, so I’m guessing A=9.5.) Yeah, scary.

I DO recognize that not EVERYONE is as comfortable with math as I am – I’m talking basic arithmetic, plus algebra, geometry, and trigonometry; I was lost when I got to calculus.

Do the math on climate change.

Math IS everywhere!


ABC Wednesday – Round 12

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

32 thoughts on “M is for Math is all around”

  1. 0 hundred dollar bills and 45 pennies ALSO adds up to 45 cents, Roger; I gotta go with the school’s interpretation of the correct answer to that one. By definition a combination of dimes and pennies must include at least one of each; to have zero of either negates the idea that it is a “combination.”

  2. But you can only use dimes and pennies, so the $100 bills argument does not work! And some of her other homework suggested zero as a legit answer.

  3. Math is definitely a universal language, but as a right-brainer, I’m not overly competent at it. I joke that letters and numbers should never be in the same equation. 🙂 While I did make it through Algebra 2 and Trigonometry in high school with Bs, I haven’t found a need for that information since graduation. But, I’m in awe of people who are blessed with an analytical mind.

  4. I don’t know if you play darts where you are, but it’s a favourite pub game in the UK. It tells us a strange thing about math. Many people play and subtract their score perfectly without thinking, but so many of them, asked to work out a sum on paper, can’t do it. There’s a strange psychology to math, I’m sure.

  5. I was never any good at Math, but now if I were to study it I think I’d “get” it. In my day, there was no connection given to life and as such it was all just Greek to me. I have a friend who does Math and Science tutoring so I send any potential clients to her. She, in turn, sends all the right-brained kids to me! lol

    abcw team

  6. I was good at Maths but that was a long time ago 🙂 Now I am an alien with the purple hat!! 😉

  7. I’m by no means a math expert…but I am an expert cook and use math EVERY day in my kitchen!! Loved reading about you and your Math experiences and your daughter. Wonderful!

  8. Great post. Math is a part of everything and I think it would help children become more interested in it if they think about that. Counting is so important to music where holding a note slightly different lengths can completely change a composition. I’ve thought about that a lot.

  9. So sorry Roger….but I’m not a fan of math.
    Perhaps it’s because it was never explained in such a way that I could really get into it.
    I know I use it in my everyday life but in school…ouch!

  10. Math was not my strongest in high school, never thought much about how I would use it. I spent my working years in banking and retired as an accountant. GO FIGURE!!

  11. When I was young, I did okay in arithmetic. But once I hit higher math my mind struggled. However, when I started teaching math, especially in first grade, I found my element in helping little ones find patterns as to which you addressed. Math became FUN! Thankfully, my attitude was passed onto my students.

  12. I totally agree that zero should be considered a legit answer. The combos of the license plates: those types of schemes are how I remember piles of “random” (identifier) numbers like telephone numbers, passwords, etc. Without doing that I’m totally lost.

    It’s awesome that you’re working with your daughter and encouraging her to learn how to actually use things like the distributive property and communicative property to solve problems in her head. First, it’s just a cool skill. Nowadays, if you can multiply two or three really large numbers in your head correctly people think you’re a genius.

    However, those are also incredibly important skills in higher mathematics. So, if she ever wants to take a line of coursework which requires things like number theory, abstract algebra or matrix algebra, she’s going to find that being very comfortable with that type of reasoning will help her tremendously!

  13. Great post. I also talked about math but the other end, math anxiety. I personally always loved math and was fortunate enough to have raised kids who liked it as well. BUT lately there’s been a lot of research about math anxiety – so I had some fun with it.

    That said, and in line with your point that math is everywhere, there’s a wonderful book by Jon Sciezka – a picture book – called “Math Curse” that if you haven’t read you should. I kids wakes up one day to find math everywhere…

    If you look it up, let me know what you think!

    In the meantime, have a great week.

  14. I really do believe Math is everywhere! (Plays a part of my discipline too, I’m biased:) I love the poem – a new Langston Hughes poem I did not know before!

  15. I was never good at math in school. No-one ever bothered to tell me you had to MEMORIZE times tables. I never had to memorize spelling, it just seemed to be absorbed by my brain, but not so math. Eventually I caught on and many years later would teach Math and loved teaching students who found it hard to do.

  16. Maths is not only about numbers, it’s about shape, patterns, groups….that’s what I always tell my students. Maths are always a part of our lives.

  17. Math is fun. I don’t care what that old talking Barbie doll said. (Remember that poopstorm? “Math is hard.”)

    I, too, love the nines. All permutations of The Nines Game. I love prime numbers, except when it’s my age… I fretted for a year when I was 47, and 59 waits for me like a crapapple tree, hee hee.

    DOWN SIDE: Compulsions. If I sit at a round table or in a group, I have to find the median if it’s an even number or the “odd one out” if not. Used to distract me in meetings, especially as people would come and go! Ah, the joys of OCD… Peace, and thanks, Rog, Amy

  18. I hated math at school and still hate doing calculations. I am just able to add 1 + 1 ! Fortunately there are calculators everywhere even in my mobile, so why should I bother with math ? I am more creative than mathematic and live very well without it !

  19. So which is it, Beatles fan? What’s ‘all around’: Love, or math? Or both? Or maybe love IS math?! (I shouldn’t comment on blogs before coffee.)

  20. I was never good in Math, when I had to do it at university, my husband, then Boyfriend some how coached me and I got As, though I had no idea how.

  21. Despite both my parents being excellent at maths, I seem to have missed that gene. Having fun with it is the best way to learn, guess you both love the NY Museum of Mathematics.

  22. love=math. therefore, all you need is math. OK, I don’t believe that. But you know thouse youn couples afraid of saying the L word? They can say the M word instead: ‘I MATH you.’

  23. What a marvelous study of math…I was mesmerized! I have always liked math, but you should do shed a new light on the matter:)

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