Kiss those Math Headaches GOODBYE!

Archive for the ‘FUN PROBLEM’ Category

How to Combine Positive & Negative Numbers — Quickly and Easily


If you or someone you know struggles when combining numbers with opposite signs — one positive, the other negative — this post is for you!

To be clear, I’m referring to problems like these:

 – 2 + 7 [first number negative, second number positive], or

+ 13 – 20 [first number positive, second number negative]

To work out the answers, turn each problem into a math-story. In this case, turn it into the story of a tug-of-war battle. Here’s how.

In the first problem, – 2 + 7, view the – 2 as meaning there are 2 people on the “negative” team; similarly, view the + 7 as meaning there are 7 people on the “positive” team.

There are just three things to keep in mind for this math-story:

1)  Every “person” participating in the tug-of-war is equally strong.

2)  The team with more people always wins; the team with fewer people always loses.

3)  In the story we figure out by how many people the winning team “outnumbers” the other team. That’s simple; it just means how many more people are on that team than are on the other team. Example: if the negative team has 2 people and the positive team has 7 people, we say the positive team “outnumbers” the negative team by 5 people, since 7 is 5 more than 2.

Now to simplify such a problem, just answer three simple questions: 

1)  How many people are on each team?
In our first problem, – 2 + 7, there are 2 people on the negative team and 7 people on the positive team.

2)  Which team WINS?
Since there are more people on the positive team, the positive team wins.

3) By how many people does the winning team OUTNUMBER the losing team?
Since the positives have 7 while the negatives have only 2, the positives outnumber the negatives by 5.

Now ignore the answer to the intro question, Question 1, but put together your answers to Questions 2 and 3.

ANSWER TO QUESTION 2:  +

ANSWER TO QUESTION 3:  5

ANSWERS TOGETHER:  + 5

All in all, this tells us that:  – 2 + 7 = + 5

For those of you who’ve torn your hair out over such problems, I have good news …

… THEY REALLY ARE THIS SIMPLE!

But to believe this, it will help to work out one more problem:  + 13 – 20.

Here, again, are the common-sense questions, along with their answers.

1)  How many people are on each team?
In this problem, + 13 – 20, there are 13 people on the positive team and 20 people on the negative team.

2)  Which team WINS?
Since there are more people on the negative team in this problem, the negative team wins.

3) By how many people does the winning team OUTNUMBER the losing team?
Since the negatives have 20 while the positives have only 13, the negatives outnumber the positives by 7.

Just as you did in the first problem, put together your answers to Questions 2 and 3.

ANSWER TO QUESTION 2:  

ANSWER TO QUESTION 3:  7

ANSWERS TOGETHER:  – 7

All in all, this tells us that:  + 13 – 20  = – 7

Now try these for practice:

a)  – 3 + 9

b) + 1 – 4

c)  –  9 + 23

d)  – 37 + 19

e) + 49 – 82

Answer to Practice Problems:

a)  – 3 + 9 = + 6

b) + 1 – 4 = – 3

c)  –  9 + 23 = + 14

d)  – 37 + 19 = – 18

e) + 49 – 82 = – 33

Josh Rappaport is the author of five books on math, including the Parents Choice-award winning Algebra Survival Guide. If you like the way Josh explains these problems, you will very likely like the Algebra Survival Guide and companion Workbook, both of which are available on Amazon.com  Just click the links in the sidebar for more information! 

James Bond Math Challenge


Math in the movies … if there ever was a cool way to explore math, this has to be it. And if you missed my earlier posts on this, check them out here and here.

Math is Cool!

I was looking through the links to movies with math themes, and a question came up.

On the site showing the movies, the text says that there are “mathematical themes and patterns motivated by math” in the introduction scene for the James Bond movie, Casino Royale, this clip:

I’ve watched the clip a few times, and I have my own ideas as to mathematical themes and patterns.

(more…)

Movie Math: Wake Students Up with Silver Screen Riddles


Last days of the school year … kids getting “antsy.”

Harder and harder to keep their attention … so what’s a teacher to do?

Answer:  Let the media help us with the media generation.

In my May 16 post, I pointed you to a website that showed how math is used in major motion pictures.

Math is Cool!

In this post I’d like to focus on one such reference to math in the movies, and show how you can turn it into a fun “End-of-Year” lesson.

The clip of Die Hard below has a great scene in which the Bruce Willis character needs to solve a mathematical puzzle in less than five minutes to avoid getting blown up. It’s an exciting scene, and the math is interesting.

I suggest that you first have your class watch this clip.

After watching it, review the solution with your class.
(more…)

Rubik’s Slide: play your way to geometric knowledge


A toy that educates … could it be a dream?

I recently found something that fits that category, educating students in concepts of GEOMETRY.

It’s called the Rubik’s Slide, created by Techno Source. I bought this Rubik’s Slide a few months ago because I needed another puzzle to keep my tutoring clients entertained while I grade their work, which I often do at the start of sessions.

Rubik's Slide Logo

(more…)

Fun Math Problem #2


Here is the second in my series of “Fun Math Problems.”

Feel free to try these problems. Share them with friends and colleagues. Use them however you see fit! I will post the answer to the problems two days later, after people have had time to respond.

To provide your response, simply send an email to me @ info@SingingTurtle.com
and make your Subject: Fun Problem.
Please show how you worked the problem. Thanks. I will post the names of the first three people who get this right.

The Problem:  Before you go out to lunch, you glance at the clock above your desk. When you come back from lunch, you glance at the clock again, and you notice something strange. The minute and the hour hand have exchanged places from the positions they had just before you went to lunch.

The question is:  how long were you away?

Rusting clock face

Image by The Hidaway (Simon) via Flickr

Answer, Fun Math Problem


Answer to problem about the circular and square pegs and holes.

The “fit” for each situation is the following ratio:
(Area of Inner Figure) ÷ (Area of Outer Figure)

For the square peg in a round hole —
Call the radius of the circle r.
Then the diagonal of square “peg” = 2r
Notice that by slicing the square along its diagonal,
we get a 45-45-90 triangle, with the diagonal being
the hypotenuse and the sides being the two equal legs.
Using the proportions in a 45-45-90 triangle,
side of square peg = r times the square root of 2
Multiplying this side of the square by itself gives
us the area of the square, which comes out as:
2 times the radius squared

This being the case,
Area of square is: 2 times radius squared, and
Area of circle is: Pi times radius squared, and so …

Cancelling the value of the radius squared, we get:
Ratio of (Area of square) to (Area of circle) is:
2÷Pi = 0.6366

For the round peg in a square hole —
Call radius of the circle r.
And since the diameter of the circle is the same length as
the side of the square, the side of the square = 2r
Multiplying the side of the square by itself to get the
area of the square, we find that the area of the square
is given by: 4 times radius squared.

This being the case,
Area of circle is: Pi times radius squared
Area of square is: 4 times radius squared, and so …

Ratio of (Area of circle) to (Area of square) is therefore:
Pi ÷ 4 = 0.7854

Of the two ratios, the ratio of the circular peg in a square hole
is greater than that of the square peg in a circular hole.

Therefore we can say that the circular peg in a square hole
provides a better fit than a square peg in a circular hole.

And that is the answer!

FUN MATH PROBLEM — Circling the Square & Vice-Versa


From time to time I will post interesting math problems.

Feel free to try these problems. Share them with friends and colleagues. Use them however you see fit!

I will post the answer to the problems two days later, after people have had time to respond.

To post your response, simply send an email to me @ info@SingingTurtle.com
and make your Subject: Fun Problem.

The problem: Which provides the fuller fit? Putting a circular peg in a square hole, or putting a square peg in a circular hole? To get credit, show all work, and justify your answer by expressing each “fit” as a percent.

A few term-clarifications, to help you do this correctly:

a) By “fit,” I mean the ratio of the smaller shape to the larger shape, expressed as a percent. For
example, if a ratio is 4 to 5, that would represent a “fit” of 80 percent.

b) For the circular peg in the square hole, assume that the diameter of the circle equals the side of the
square. For the square peg in a circular hole, assume that the diameter of the circle equals the diagonal of the square.

c) By “fuller fit,” I mean the larger of the two ratios.

Have fun!