Monday, November 15, 2010

Math in Every Day Life

If you stay home with little kids, your math skills might generally be used only when factoring one of the following scenarios:
  • If the gas light has gone on, giving me 30 miles before empty, how many minutes in city traffic and stoplights does that translate to, considering there's no way I'm stopping to get more gas--will I make it home?
  • If I'm running 4 minutes behind for picking up from pre-school, how may lights do I need to catch green to make up the time?
  • If I have two apples, one half-rotted, for our dessert tonight, how many slices does each family member get, taking into account the size and nutritive needs of each individual?
  • If both of Abigail's morning naps were interrupted and she's miserable as a result, what is the earliest possible time I can put her down for her afternoon nap without risking that she'll wake up too early from that nap?
But if you really want to stretch that math part of the brain, just contact a farmer about buying a cow and a pig and then get 11 families to commit to buying them.  Then try meeting everyone's needs while working with a very rough estimate of how much meat you'll actually end up with.  My friend Rachel helped me start a spreadsheet, which I then wrote addition programs into to explore such options as, "If such and such family gets x amount of this cut of meat and y amount of this cut of meat, blah, blah, then how many steaks should this family get--and how much bacon?"  Not exactly an exact mathematical equation.  But to get whole cow and pig costs of butchering and packaging from "hanging weight" into a comprehensible "This is how much you'll be paying for a pound of ground beef" kind of explanation to give the families involved took a lot of work for both me and the butcher.  I had to call the butcher enough times that I actually feared that I was becoming a nuisance (I know, crazy thought, me, a nuisance).

I thought I'd share some of the charts I was working on in case anyone was interested.  (The sketches of coral were at the request of my oldest child.)  At the very least, it makes you appreciate your meat in a whole new way--every free-range, antibiotic- and hormone-free pound of it.

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