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How To Answer Real-World Questions Using Mathematics

You know the scenario: A parent or community member stops you with a mathematical question. Some examples:

  • How can I increase my odds at a casino
  • How can I understand how credit card companies calculate fees, interest, and penalties?
  • How can a raise be bad for me tax-wise?
  • How can I compare 30-year vs 15-year loans?
  • should I pay off my mortgage early?
Do you have answers for all of these questions, since as a mathematics teacher/person, it is assumed that you have all the mathematical answers?

In case you need to refresh your memory, you could turn to the internet....or you could consult one of these handy books:

  • Stanley Kogelman and Barbara Heller's book The Only Math Book You'll Ever Need is a good place to start, with sections on personal finance, indoor math (e.g. sports, foreign travel, hobbies, etc.), and outdoor math (e.g. home improvement, media math, etc.).
  • Darrell Huff's book The Complete How to Figure It claims to include "a thousand and one" calculations, ranging from investments, strategies for insurance plans, saving for college tuitions, and a special "Math in a Hurry" chapter.
  • Beth Norcross' book Use You Fingers, Use Your Toes creates real-life scenarios that require mathematical calculations, such as adjusting recipes, tipping, sport statistics, etc....all that can be accomplished by common sense math shortcuts.
  • And last and perhaps expected is Charles Seiter's book Everyday Math for Dummies. Though very similar in style and content to the previous three books, I especially like the Part III section, which answers the questions: What They Were Trying to Tell You in Your Algebra, Geometry, or Trigonometry Classes?
Again, I find such books interesting and occasionally find some new short cut tips for making calculations. To respond to questions asked of you as the "math expert," thes ebooks will help...you ncan even recommend the books themselves...though be careful how you recommend the fourth book, given its title.