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Fun Algebraic Equations to use in Everyday Life

By Kathleen Knowles, 03 Jul 2020

Ah, Algebra. What a pain it can be to memorize formulas and how to solve them. For those who did not like math class, “I’m never going to use this!” runs through your mind as you do your homework.

But guess what, you do use it and probably don’t even realize it. You even use it to do fun, everyday activities.

Algebra Can Be Entertaining

You use simple algebraic equations all the time. How long do you need to save your allowance to buy the newest "Assassin’s Creed" game? How much pizza should you order when your friends come over to play it? How much gaming time have you logged in on your new game?

Let's figure these questions out.

How Long Will it Take You to Save: x/y=z

"Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey" is out in stores, and you want it. But you’ve blown all your money on a new controller for your PS4. How much longer do you have to wait?

If you get $5.00 a week in allowance, and the game is $27.00, how many weeks until you can buy the game? To figure it out, use the equation x/y=z.

The cost of the game, $27.00, is x. Your allowance, $5.00, is y.

27 / 5 = z

27 / 5 = 5.4

You’ll need to save a little more than six weeks’ worth of your allowance to save enough money for your game.

Party Planning: (x*y)/z=a

You’ve invited 6 of your friends over to play your new game, and you want to order pizza. If each medium pizza has 8 slices, and you want everyone to get at least 3 slices, how many pizzas do you need to order? Use this equation to figure it out: (x*y)/z=a.

You have 6 friends and yourself to feed, so x is 7. You want 3, or y, pieces of pizza per person. A medium pizza has 8, or z, slices.

(7 * 3) / 8 = a

21 / 8 = 2.65

Round up to the nearest whole number, since you cannot order half pies. You’re going to need a total of 3 pizzas.

Calculating Gaming Time: (x/y)*a/b=c

You want to spend a couple of hours playing your new game with your friends tonight, but your parents say you have to read or exercise for 30 minutes for every 20 minutes of game time. How long do you have to read or exercise to get your 2 hours of game time in? Use (x/y)*a/b =c to find out.

The number of minutes you want to play, 120, is x. The minutes of game time you earn, 20, is y. The number of minutes you’re required to read or exercise, 30, is a. There are 60 minutes in an hour, b.

(120/20)*30/60=c

(6*30)/60=c

180/60=3

You have to spend 3 hours reading or exercising to earn 2 hours of gaming.

Give it a Sporting Chance

Believe it or not, sports are all about the numbers. Don’t believe me? Here are a few examples:

Batting Average: z=x/y

If you are a baseball fan, you probably are familiar with batting averages. These are calculated using z=x/y.

The batter’s average, z, is determined by dividing their total number of hits, x, by the number of times they were at bat, y (Baseball Reference).

We can also figure out how many times a player was at-bat with this formula. Alex Rodriguez’s career batting average is 2.95. Overall he had a total of 3,115 hits. Can you use the formula z=x/y to figure out how many times he was at-bat?

2.95=3,115/y

y=2.95*3,115

9,189.25=2.95*3,115

A-Rod went to bat a little over 9,189 times! You can use this same formula to figure out a basketball player’s free throw average, or a quarterback’s passing average.

Throwing the Ball: x2+y2=z2

Crack! The ball is flying towards you on second base, you catch it, and need to throw it home to tag out the runner. Exactly how far do you have to throw that ball?

You can use algebra’s Pythagorean Theorem to find out (HelloThinkster)! Each side of a baseball diamond is 30 yards long. X, the distance from home to first base, is your first leg. Y, the distance from first to second base, is your second leg. Z, the distance from second base to home (with the right angle at first base), is your hypotenuse. This is how it works:

302+302=z2

900+900=z2

1800=z2

z=42.43 yards

Can you throw that far? If not, better pass it to the third baseman instead. Using this formula, you can calculate the different distances you’ll need to throw the ball and practice your throws until they can go the distance.

Cook up Something Great!

Algebra is your friend in the kitchen, too. Chefs use it all the time to adjust recipes, calculate servings, and determine prices.

Adjusting Recipes: x/y

It’s time for breakfast. You’re making oatmeal. The instructions tell you to use 1 cup of water and .5 cup of oats to make 1 cup of cooked oatmeal, but you need enough oatmeal for yourself and your two younger brothers. How do you adjust the recipe? You can triple the recipe easily by using the algebraic equation for ratios, x/y.

Simply take the cooking ratio for oatmeal and multiply each side by 3 (since there are three people).

1/.5

(1*3)/(.5*3)

3/1.5

You’ll need 3 cups of water and 1.5 cups of oatmeal to make enough breakfast for you and your brothers.

Algebra all Day, In Every Way!

We use algebraic equations every day, in so many ways. Your cell phone uses elliptic curve cryptography to send texts, and WhatsApp uses it to send messages (Quora). Video Game developers use algebraic equations to determine what your character will look like, how it moves, and how much damage your attacks cause (Gamedesigning.org).

Although it may seem boring in math class, algebraic equations make life fun!

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