06.16.2018: One Chapter of Math

Today's soundtrack is The Antlers: Hospice.

This afternoon, I'm working on chapter 23 of Basic Math & Pre-Algebra, "Putting Mr. X to Work: Algebra Word Problems."

Algebra word problems "bring together a lot of what you know" (p. 311), which makes them a great exercise.

The first thing we want to do with an algebra word problem is to make it visual "by using a chart or picture" (p. 312).

There are "five steps for solving most algebra word problems:

1. Declare a variable.

2. Set up the equation.

3. Solve the equation.

4. Answer the question that the problem asks.

5. Check your answer" (p. 312).

To declare a variable, we need to identify what part of the equation is unknown. For example, I could say "let c = the number of Corollas at the Toyota dealership," or "let r = the number of roses at the flower shop." So we are giving a letter "a meaning by attaching it to a number" (p. 313).

To set up the equation, we plug our variable into our chart, then turn it into an equation with the numbers and variables that we have identified.

To solve the equation, we use the tools we've already learned.

To answer the question, we write out the answer to the original word problem, using the results of our equation.

To check our work, we plug in the results of the equation back into the original chart and make sure that everything adds up.

Another tip given is to choose variables carefully: try to choose variables that will allow you to multiply rather than divide, so that you can avoid dealing with fractions.