Why It Matters: The Language of Algebra

Why learn how to manipulate math equations using algebraic rules?

Family portrait of four people: woman, man, and two little girls

To solve any real world problem using math, you will need to translate the language we use to describe a situation into math notation. Then you will apply the rules of algebra to solve for the unknown amounts in the scenario.

Meet the Lee family: Lydia, Rob, Aubrey and Maya

There is a three day weekend coming up next month and the Lee family has decided to celebrate with a “staycation” in the nearby city of Nashville, Tennessee. They have saved up $955 for the lodging, food, and activities for the long weekend. To make sure that they stay within their budget, Lydia wants to make some calculations based on what she thinks everything will cost. This will help them decide what activities they will do and what they will be able to purchase while they are out and about. First, Lydia will need to collect all the information she has about pricing on various activities they are interested in.

She has already found a great two bedroom apartment to rent for $180 per night, and they have reserved it for three nights. The girls asked if they could all visit the Adventure Science Center while they are there. The museum costs $24 for adult tickets and $19 for children. She knows that food for the four of them will cost about $75 a day, which will be a combination of groceries and eating out. Rob thinks it would be fun for the family to visit the famous Badger Hill Farm for some autumn fun. Admission to the activity area there is $8 per person, but there are a few other treats and games they would like to purchase while visiting the farm. Caramel apples cost $5 each, making a jack-o-lantern at the pumpkin carving station is $12, popcorn is $4 a bag, and the corn maze is an extra $10 per person.

Chalkboard sign that reads Happy Pumpkin Season in front of some wooden barrels filled with pumpkins

After translating her situation into math notation and using a few basic rules of algebra, Lydia is able to calculate how much each person will have to spend on extras at the pumpkin patch.

In the following module, you will learn how to translate word problems into mathematical equations and solve simple algebraic equations.





Did you have an idea for improving this content? We’d love your input.

Improve this pageLearn More