Many times while working with science formulas we come across a useful little number called a constant. These numbers are the result of hours of derivation and without them we would be in quite a difficult spot. It is sometimes hard for students to identify these numbers and more importantly realize where they come from. Too many times we tend to expect everyone to just know what they are. I have learned that the first thing to ask is “do you understand this constant”? Sometimes the student did not even realize there was a constant. I like to explain them as a little friend that makes our lives easier.
There are other times that we have little friends that alter an answer so it is correct. I ran into this in Economics when looking at GDP. It turns out you cannot just add a simple increase in spending to the GDP, who knew. Instead you first have to multiply the increase in spending by a little friend called the multiplier. This value is not a constant, but it does correct for some pretty complex economic interactions. So in many fields of study do not forget that these little friends are sometimes the most important part of the subject, and often are the stumbling block for a student’s full comprehension of a topic.