How We Use Fractions Everyday

Topics: Mathematics, Number, Elementary arithmetic Pages: 7 (2522 words) Published: August 28, 2011
How we use fractions everyday and don't even realize it
(Math worksheets center)

If you walk down the aisles of your local mall you probably would get a third of the way there without coming in contact into a fraction in some way. After all, that walk down the aisle is a fraction: 1/3. Yes, we use fractions in one way or another in everyday life even though we may not completely realize it. For example, you use fractions every time you look at a clock. Yes, we know that quart past (1/4), half past (1/2) and quarter till (�'s past) are fractions. In fact, all time telling is a fraction of x/60 with the exception of when it is time on the hour as it then becomes a whole number (60/60 = 1) For example, 36 minutes past the hour is 3/5's.This concept of looking at a clock is applicable to everything. Any value of anything that is not a whole number is a fraction! After all, that is what a fraction is�.a part of a whole. And there are parts of a whole everywhere! If you don't believe this, then try baking a cake without using fractions. If it were not for fractions something as simple as baking a cake would be impossible. When you put 2 eggs into the cake mix you are using 1/6 of a dozen. In fact, every ingredient in a cake recipe is a fraction of something: a cup of milk, a teaspoon of salt, a stick of butter, a half a cup of chocolate chips. Can you imagine the result of baking a cake mixing an entire salt shaker, a gallon of milk, a pound of butter, a dozen eggs and an entire bag of chocolate chips? You would either have a really poor tasting cake or you would have a cake the size of the refrigerator! It is interesting to note that even those students who do very well on tests that feature fractions seem to very poorly on understanding how fractions work in everyday life. This is not because they do not grasp the concept of fractions but because they are somewhat disconnected between the way fractions make the transition from the classroom and into practical experience. This is odd because fractions are literally everywhere. The problem is that fractions are not always presented in a recognizable manner. When we see signs in front of a store that say: "Half off! Everything must go!" it is pretty obvious that you can get that $100 TV set for $50. But what really attracts people to the store is those words "Half off!" pretty much scream about a deal you are going to receive. Now, imagine if the stores used the following sign: "1/2!" Not only is such a sign significantly less catchy than "Half off" it looks like some kind of numerical code for a secret agent! But, there are fractions as are the tons of half off, third off, three quarters sales as well.Yes, fractions are everywhere. There are fractions when use order a quarter pounder with cheese (1/4), purchase gasoline for 2.79 5/9 a gallon. Granted the one fraction you won't see is the 4/9 of a penny change on a gallon of gas but that is another story. But, you can generally rely on coming into contact with fractions in one form or another mainly because parts of a whole are far more common that complete collectives of any one thing. This may seem odd to us because when we first learn math we learn the much easier to understand whole numbers system. As our education progresses we are introduced to more complex aspects of math but our minds are hardwired to look for what we first learned. As such, we have a tendency to ignore the presence of fractions even though they are pretty much all around us all time.|

Mathematics in Everyday Situations - Lesh (1985)
Richard Lesh, of the Educational Testing Service (ETS) in Princeton, New Jersey, believes that if students are provided with everyday situations for practicing and learning the important uses of mathematics, they will develop such skills as "making inferences, evaluating reasonableness of results... [and] using references to 'look up' what they need to know."

Lesh, R. (1985). Processes, skills, and...

References: Carpenter, T. P., T. G. Coburn, R. E. Kays, and J. W. Wilson (1975). Results and implications of the NAEP mathematics assessment: secondary school. Mathematics Teacher, 68, 453-470.
Summary by Maria Ong
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