Math is a tool used to interact with the world around us. It helps us predict what we will see, analyze what we have seen, and create things others have never seen. Regardless of what summer activities students enjoy, their level of math competency, or their comfort in the subject, there are many opportunities for students to practice their skills. Here are five unique ways students can apply their math skills to real-world scenarios during the summer months:
1. Take a road trip and determine gas mileage.
On long road trips, refueling for gas is a necessary chore. It is possible to calculate your gas mileage if you know the vehicle’s fuel tank size (gas mileage = miles traveled/number of gallons in the tank used up). Students can use the gas mileage to predict when they will need to stop for gas again. This is a useful refresher for students in any high school math class, including Pre-Algebra through Algebra 1 and 2.
2. Go to a baseball game and figure out player stats.
America’s pastime relies on statistics to analyze player success. Batting averages and ERAs are fun and useful statistics tools. And students don’t have to stop there. The sky’s the limit. Other statistics can be calculated too!
3. Manipulate fractions when cooking.
Summer barbecues are a highlight for many people. Cooking more complex recipes requires knowledge of how to manipulate fractions based on serving sizes. Often, recipes will give food amounts for four servings. To find out how much is needed for a big family gathering, students will have to ask what is needed to feed a larger number of people. The math gets even more interesting if a meal has to be planned within a budget or when students are not multiplying the serving size by an integer.
4. Take a bike ride and calculate speed.
Students can use an odometer app on their smartphones or a tracking app like MapMyRide to figure out how far they have traveled. With that, the formula distance = rate x time can be used to find speed as well as how many pedals per minute they can do (safely). Students also can calculate how far one pedal will take them. With a bit of experimenting, the relationship between gear speed and pedal rate can be found (tables are a great way to lay out the information). Visual students also can see how that applies to the gears themselves.
5. Map out facial proportions when painting or drawing.
Art projects are actually a great way to practice math. Even the best artists have some method for calculating realistic head and body proportions. Questions that students might think about could include: Where should the eyes/ears/nose/mouth be positioned with respect to the chin and forehead? What canvas size should be used? Leonardo da Vinci was a huge fan of proportions in his work and an advocate of “the golden ratio.” Another activity when painting involves mixing pigments, which requires students to practice ratios and proportions to get just the right shade.