Bad at math

For the discussion of math. Duh.

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Kefka
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Bad at math

Postby Kefka » Thu Jan 07, 2010 5:07 am UTC

I'm currently working on transferring to a university.
I have to go up to Calculus I.
I took Elementary Algebra and I got an A. The teacher rarely assigned word problems, which I'm horrible at, and
I'm taking Intermediate Algebra right now during the winter session, but it covers a chapter and a half each day, and I feel overwhelmed, even though the first couple of chapters are review chapters, because the homework is online, and a huge chunk of the problems are word problems.
Should I drop this class and pick it up during a full semester?
Any advice for getting better at solving word problems?

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BlackSails
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Re: Bad at math

Postby BlackSails » Thu Jan 07, 2010 5:42 am UTC

Word problems are just regular math problems with window dressing. Figure out what the actual problem is and solve it.

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poxic
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Re: Bad at math

Postby poxic » Thu Jan 07, 2010 5:52 am UTC

"Figure out what the problem is, then solve it." Not terribly helpful advice maybe, BlackSails. :wink:

The way I was taught was to look for numbers. If you read:

"Jimbo has two apples and Gretchen has four apples. If they pool their apples together and throw them at the horse, how many foot-pounds of force will the horse experience assuming perfectly spherical, one-pound apples thrown with ten foot-pounds of force each?"

(Or whatever.) There are numbers here: two apples, four apples, Jimbo and Gretchen (two people, not relevant here though), one horse, one pound, ten foot-pounds. There are words that suggest operations: pool together (add). There are units suggested: pounds, foot-pounds (whatever the hell those are).

So 2 + 4 = 6 apples total.
6 apples * 1 pound each = 6 pounds of apples.
6 pounds * 10 foot-pounds = 60 foot-pounds2 or some damn thing.


/note to the fora: do not ask poxic for math help >.<
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BlackSails
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Re: Bad at math

Postby BlackSails » Thu Jan 07, 2010 5:58 am UTC

I suppose that isnt very good advice. Ill rephrase.

Ignore the word problem. There are no such things as word problems. Problems are just problems. Nobody cares if Alice wants ice cream and is walking at 2 m/s to the 1 km distant supermarket to buy some chocolate ice cream and some sprinkles.

All you care about is that there is a thing moving at 2 m/s, to an object 1 km away.

Quenouille
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Re: Bad at math

Postby Quenouille » Thu Jan 07, 2010 6:30 am UTC

But if that thing is drunk you'll need to simulate a random walk.

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skeptical scientist
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Re: Bad at math

Postby skeptical scientist » Thu Jan 07, 2010 8:07 am UTC

What the hell is a foot-pound of force? Image
I'm looking forward to the day when the SNES emulator on my computer works by emulating the elementary particles in an actual, physical box with Nintendo stamped on the side.

"With math, all things are possible." —Rebecca Watson

gorcee
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Re: Bad at math

Postby gorcee » Thu Jan 07, 2010 5:30 pm UTC

skeptical scientist wrote:What the hell is a foot-pound of force? Image


It's the weight of British currency that can fit in a standard UK size 8 shoe.

Token
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Re: Bad at math

Postby Token » Thu Jan 07, 2010 6:14 pm UTC

The pound is already a unit of force. The foot pound is a unit of torque.
All posts are works in progress. If I posted something within the last hour, chances are I'm still editing it.

Tirian
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Re: Bad at math

Postby Tirian » Thu Jan 07, 2010 6:31 pm UTC

I think your best bet is finding an Elementary Algebra book in the library that has a lot of word problems and speeding through those with the math you already understand so that you develop the skills to turn a word problem into a formula. (And go ahead and ask here if there are specific problems [that you weren't assigned, naturally] that puzzle you, because that's what we do.) Because word problems aren't going to go away, and if you have to take a semester of physics after your calculus, they're nothing but "word problems".

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skeptical scientist
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Re: Bad at math

Postby skeptical scientist » Fri Jan 08, 2010 1:52 am UTC

Token wrote:The pound is already a unit of force. The foot pound is a unit of torque.

And here I was thinking it was a unit of work. Damnitall!
I'm looking forward to the day when the SNES emulator on my computer works by emulating the elementary particles in an actual, physical box with Nintendo stamped on the side.

"With math, all things are possible." —Rebecca Watson

Token
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Re: Bad at math

Postby Token » Fri Jan 08, 2010 2:08 am UTC

You must be thinking of a newton metre.
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Re: Bad at math

Postby skeptical scientist » Fri Jan 08, 2010 2:36 am UTC

No, a newton meter is a unit of torque, a joule is a unit of work. Get your facts straight!
I'm looking forward to the day when the SNES emulator on my computer works by emulating the elementary particles in an actual, physical box with Nintendo stamped on the side.

"With math, all things are possible." —Rebecca Watson

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poxic
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Re: Bad at math

Postby poxic » Fri Jan 08, 2010 3:03 am UTC

*poxic reminds the fora that she's crap at math*

Actually, I'm crap at physics because I've never taken a beginner's course in the stuff. (I should rectify that, soonish.) I'm good at basic math, but I stopped just before calculus, and high school was a loooong time ago. :|
The Supreme Ethical Rule: Act so as to elicit the best in others and thereby in thyself.
- Felix Adler, professor, lecturer, and reformer (13 Aug 1851-1933)

AllSaintsDay
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Re: Bad at math

Postby AllSaintsDay » Fri Jan 08, 2010 7:04 am UTC

They have the same dimensions. Typically, torque is a pound-foot, but occasionally a foot-pound. Always, to my knowledge, energy is a foot-pound.
Metrically, a newton-meter of energy is a joule, and only referred to as a newton-meter while doing dimensional analysis and such(though technically, it still is a newton-meter as well), while a newton-meter of torque is just a newton-meter.

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squareroot1
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Re: Bad at math

Postby squareroot1 » Fri Jan 08, 2010 9:05 am UTC

Guys, I think you scared away the OP.

Anyway, a word problem is just a regular problem in disguise, but, thankfully, they are rarely more than meets the eye. The point of word problems is to distract and confuse you with words and run on sentences so you learn how to deal with that, cause in reality problems don't pop into existence in a convenient form.

Just do them and try to observe how other people/the answer key go about solving them, eventually they won't be hard or scary anymore.

Rgeminas
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Re: Bad at math

Postby Rgeminas » Sat Jan 09, 2010 11:20 pm UTC

Clarifying things a little: there is no such thing as a word problem once you get to math a little deeper. When there is, it is normally an application of such to another area such as physics in calculus. The point of them is simply to straighten out the facts to simplify the problem, removing as much unnecessary data as possible, so as to reduce the problem to a simple mathematical statement.


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