A few summers ago I wrote a blog post about finding math in unexpected places as a way to keep skills sharp through the summer break. One of the unexpected places I talked about was the world of tabletop Role-Playing Games (RPGs) such as Dungeons & Dragons. Such games are essentially communal storytelling exercises which use chance elements to help guide the story via a set of polyhedral dice.
I've been running a D&D game for a group of friends for several months now, serving as “Game Master.” As Game Master I serve as lead storyteller for the group, while the others each create a character to experience the story firsthand. My job is to create the framework for the story. I devise and flesh out the world that the story takes place in, present challenges for the players to overcome, and rationalize the effect their actions have upon the world. Overall, my goal is to create circumstances that will allow the players to be heroes. Today I'd like to delve a little deeper...
Averages: mean, median and mode. When in school, you use them to determine your grade. Sports fans understand them with batting averages, yardage per game, etc... What about how averages apply to working a job and making money, something most students can grasp?
If your income is commission-based, you can determine your average pay per week, month or year. If you have a business, you can use averages to determine what and when products and services sell the best. You can average your expenditures (food, housing, gas) to help create and stick to a budget.
Averages go beyond adding all the numbers and dividing by the number of numbers. How else can you apply it?
Nailing an 800 on the math portion of the SAT can be a tricky feat, even if you are steadfastly familiar with all of the requisite formulas and rules. A difficult problem can overwhelm even the most prepared individual come test day. Time constraints, test surroundings, and the overall weight of the exam can unnerve the most grounded students.
So what do you do when panic strikes and your mind draws a blank? How do you re-center yourself and charge forward with ferocity and confidence? What you do is this: write everything down from the problem. This is the most important part of the problem solving process. As you peruse the question, write down the pertinent data and establish relationships by setting up equations. This exercise will help you see solutions that were previously difficult to decipher.
As you work on practice tests and sample problems, you must work diligently to form a solid habit of writing down important bits of information as you plow through the...