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#1 2007-05-10 00:28:39

Registered: 2007-05-10
Posts: 1

Why Study Maths?

Hi can anyone out there give me some reallife every day examples where the following topics are used!
I am experiencing the "why" and "whats the point in learning this miss" questions off my students and I am trying to gather as many interesting ideas as possible, to help motivate and get rid of the mental block they have against maths...

Any suggestions welcome
-Co-ordinate Geometry

Thank you in advance to all who contribute.

Topic moved to "Help Me!" - Ricky


#2 2007-07-03 14:00:37

Registered: 2007-07-03
Posts: 2

Re: Why Study Maths?


The topics you mentioned

-Co-ordinate Geometry

are needed in areas such as engineering, astronomy mathematics, architectual work and people planning to become math professors.

By the way, high school math teachers also teach the topics listed above at a high school level, of course.

I will only provide the steps needed for students to solve problems on their own.


#3 2007-07-03 16:35:31

Registered: 2005-12-04
Posts: 3,791

Re: Why Study Maths?

Eva, I moved this topic to help me because the Teaching Maths is Fun, Too forum is typically for resources and helping others teach it, this seems to be more of an "I need information" type of thing.  Not that this is a problem of course, just wanted to explain why I moved it.

We should probably also know what level these students are.  It would most certainly help with the examples.

First off, there is such a thing as knowledge just for the sake of knowledge.  In the past, it can clearly be seen that mathematics which didn't have any direct applications at the moment did so in the future.  Great examples of this are Euler's phi function, graph theory, and boolean algebra.

But on top of that...


A ball is shot from a cannon at X mph at an angle of Y degrees from the (flat) ground.  How far will the ball travel, at what time does it hit the ground, how fast is it falling (note that this is different from traveling) when it hits the ground, what is it's highest point, etc, etc.

This problem can be solved very awkwardly using single variable calculus.  It is much more elegant however, to represent the ball traveling as a vector, <x, y> and solving the problem like such.


Just name any problem with a triangle.  A very interesting problem I found was: Given the length of a side of a triangle in an icosahedron, determine the size of it.  This was actually a problem I solved for a biology project.  We had to make a model of a T4 bacteriophage, the head of which is in the shape of an icosahedron.  But we had no clue how large to make the triangles so that the head would be in proportion.  I wouldn't try to do this in a high school class though, it was very complicated, and if memory serves me right, it took many hours to solve.

Another one I had was in computer science where I wanted to make a pool (billiards) game.  In this game, I wanted there to be an aimer as well.  I knew the position of two balls, the angle at which the one ball was aimed, and I wanted to be able to find out in what direction the other ball would go if the first was hit.

Coordinate Geometry

An engineer is trying to decide how to package 1L chicken broth.  He has a choice between a rectangular box and a cylinder  Which should he choose so that each container takes up the least amount of material?

On a related note, I just bought chicken broth in a rectangular box and reflected on how odd it was to find a liquid in a box.

"In the real world, this would be a problem.  But in mathematics, we can just define a place where this problem doesn't exist.  So we'll go ahead and do that now..."


#4 2007-07-05 05:53:49

John E. Franklin
Registered: 2005-08-29
Posts: 3,588

Re: Why Study Maths?

Carpentry, pass SAT's better, Make Christmas ornaments with geometry,
write video games that rotate objects on the screen in 2-D even like Astroids.
Helps in chemistry of crystals and 3-D molecules.
Building bridges and pyramids.
And needed for advanced physics, to understand the laws of nature better.
Mechanical engineering, building machines, to assess stress and to assure
interference and non-interference of moving parts in the machine.

igloo myrtilles fourmis


#5 2007-07-12 23:24:08

Registered: 2007-07-12
Posts: 2

Re: Why Study Maths?

Trigonometry is invaluable in the surveying field. I was a surveyor for years and the branch of math mostly used is trig and geometry. Though, technology has lessened the burden of hand calculations, it's still an important part.


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