Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Math is Real Life - August Edition

When are we EVER going to use THIS?!” This statement… this one little statement has caused fear and panic to run through MANY a math teacher’s veins! It’s not like you won’t use math in the real world… but sometimes as soon as that question is uttered we have a mind-melting-moment and cannot come up with just the right words to say. Many times, I have thought of something perfect to respond with, but hours after the class has left the room.

So to help give you some real world examples, I am excited to join in on this terrific linky hosted by Miss Math Dork, 4mulafun, Fourth Grade Studio, and Teaching to Inspire in 5th!

So, once a month, I will be picking one way that I have used math to help me solve a particular problem. Here we go...

The Problem:
We recently built our dream home (or at least the one we could afford). In order for us to build our house we first needed to acquire a piece of land. We waited 4 long years until the perfect piece of land came up for sale. My husband's criteria - it need to be at least 2 acres and have a lot of trees. Well we got just that, 4 acres of land with about 85% of it treed. Needless to say, I barely saw my husband last summer because he was in his glory using a chainsaw to clear enough trees to build our house.

Fast forward to this summer, we are all settled into our new house in the country and loving it, but we have very quickly discovered that the to do list of a new house never ends!
So, what did my husband do with all the trees he chopped down, you ask. Well, currently they are stacked in our back bush, which is not an ideal location with winter coming in a few months and our plan to install a wood stove in the living room. So....he decided to build a woodshed close to the house where we can store the wood to dry once it is all chopped (did I mention I got him an axe for Father's day).

Now, building a woodshed, that wouldn't require any kind of Math would it? Why yes, yes it does!

The Solution:
Now technically, I am not the one performing any real manual labour here, but I did oversee the construction, much to my husband's chagrin.

So before beginning anything, we needed a plan. Thank you Pinterest!
Now, I am very fortunate to have a husband that is very handy, so he simply used this as a starting point, and altered it to fit our needs.

So where does the math come in? Well there was quite a lot involved, but the most predominant was the measuring required. One must always remember, "measure twice, cut once". There were quite a few basic straight cuts (I did a few of those), but it was when he was constructing the roof that we needed to put our thinking caps on. We needed to use Trigonometry! Now, I will openly admit, neither myself, nor my husband use trig on a regular basis, so we needed a little refresher! But once all the calculations were done, and despite our 2 year old son wanting to help, we ended up with something I think resembles a pretty decent woodshed. All thanks to a little MATH!

Get your students thinking about math in real life. Have students complete a journal entry like the ones below. I promise these will get them thinking.

More journal starters can be found here.

Keep it real,



  1. This is fabulous! I love the woodshed and it reminds me of the possibilities out on my farm land that we have.

    Jennifer Smith-Sloane

  2. Fantastic! I love that you included the plan--just think about how many diagrams mathematicians, scientists, and engineers use to show the "math" they are going to execute! Thanks for linking up!

  3. First and foremost - WOW that's a lot of trees!!! What an amazing job your hubby did on the shed! It looks absolutely amazing! Thank you so much for linking up! I look forward to reading more about your Real Life math next month!