These 20 examples of algebra in everyday life are a perfect answer to your teen’s question, “Why do I need to learn algebra if I am not going to have a career that requires it?”
I understand the question. As a person who has never been very good at math, and who spent far too much time finding ways to avoid taking advanced math in high school and college, I have asked the same question.
What I wish I had understood back then is what algebra actually is and how much it really matters in my day to day life.
A Basic Definition Of Algebra
The best way to distinguish algebra from basic math is to look at a working definition in its most simple form.
Essentially, algebra is a study based on the concepts of unknown values and variables. Algebraic equations help us when we are trying to determine an unknown value in any mathematical problem.
Why The Application Of Algebra In Real Life Is So Important
The truth is, we need to determine unknown variables all the time in our daily lives.
Beyond algebraic equations and algebraic expression, solving for an unknown variable is much is a more accessible way to think about how algebra actually functions in our everyday lives. In my experience, the best way to help overcome resistance from kids who are struggling with basic math, or with specifically with algebra, is to provide real world examples of how it assists in their daily life.
Real-life Applications Of Algebra
I have heard so many learners claim that because their career path does not require advanced math, there is no reason to complete it as part of their high school coursework. While I understand the concern, the reality is that we all need to solve for unknown variables across our daily lives.
Moreover, the more we learn and practice algebraic concepts, the more we strengthen our logical, problem solving and planning capabilities.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at some very real examples how we use algebra in the world around us.
20 Practical Applications Of Algebra In Everyday Life
Gas Prices and Gasoline Usage
Trying to figure out how much it will cost to fill your tank and how far you will be able to drive before you need to fill up again is a great example of how we solve for unknown variables everyday.
Budgeting and Managing Finances
More than basic addition and subtraction, financial management often involves projections and, again, solving for unknown variables.
Whether or not one is actually constructing a home or building a piece of furniture, there is no doubt that this is a visible example of algebra all around us.
Managing Time and Scheduling Daily Activities
When we plan and schedule our days, we are often estimating and solving for unknown variables. This simple example is exactly why practicing algebraic expression can help us in our everyday lives.
Applying for Loans or Credit Cards
Amortization schedules and variable interest rates rely on algebra. The more we understand the calculations, the better equipped we are to successfully navigate loans and debt.
Hate them as much as you’d like, but taxes are a fact of life for all us eventually – even our high schoolers.
While a learner may or may not be interested in pursuing computer science, the fact of the matter is that algebra is an integral part of the technology we use in every aspect of our lives.
Professional Sports Analysis
Sports stats and team analysis depends on algebra.
For that matter, so does actually playing sports. The strategy involved in winning a game often comes to down to solving for the best and most efficient way to gain points. Stated another way, we use algebraic expression as we play sports.
Playing Video Games
As it is in traditional sports, being successful in video games often requires a level of strategy that absolute depends on algebraic expression.
While this may seem simplistic, shopping for groceries and staying on budget require a constant analysis of unknown variables.
We need to make sure we are making the right amount of food for each meal. In order to do so, we use algebra!
Both building them, and on some level, using them.
Determining how our work hours will calculate to our actual paycheck is a great example of algebra in our everyday lives.
Chemistry, Earth Science and Physics
These sciences are a part of our life, whether or not we are the actual scientists.
This is an important use of algebra that will effect each of our lives at one point or another. Finding the correct dose of a prescription based on a person’s weight and other biological factors is a use of algebra that most of us take for granted.
Logic and Analytical Thinking
The reality is, when we are working through problems, solving puzzles and analyzing issues, algebraic expression is a part of how our brains approach logical and analytical thinking.
Calculating Travel and Departure Times
We don’t want to be late, or miss our plane. A practical example of algebra in everyday life is determining when we need to depart based on travel times.
Often times, we do most of this algebra mentally without ever being aware of it. For a struggling learner, it can be incredibly encouraging to realize that algebra is already a part of their daily life.
These examples of algebra in everyday life are intended to inspire even the most math-resistant learner to think differently about the value of studying this subject.
Additional Practical Math Resources
- Using Roblox For Math: Innovative Educational Games For Your Child
- Online Homeschool Math For Children With Learning Differences
- An Easy Way To Make Math More Fun
Shawna Wingert is a former training and development professional turned education specialist, and has homeschooled her two children for the last ten years.Shawna has written four books about homeschooling unique learners and has been featured in homeschooling discussions on Today.com, The Mighty, Simple Homeschool, My Little Poppies and Raising Lifelong Leaners.
You can find her online here at DifferentByDesignLearning.com.