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Using maths in everyday life: real world maths

Everyday, we make hundreds of decisions based on maths without even realising it. Here are just some of the daily decisions you may face, and how you use maths to make them!

8:00am: the alarm goes off

How long do you have before you need to leave? You can calculate how many minutes you have until your bus leaves and subtract the amount of time you need to spend on getting ready. If there are some spare minutes, you can press snooze!

8:45am: Walking to the bus stop

The bus leaves in 15 minutes – you can estimate how long it will take to walk to the bus stop and subtract that from the current time to work out what time you need to leave. You will need to add more time if you have lots of things to carry.

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11:30am: Morning sport at school


If you’re the striker, you may use statistics: if you know the goalkeeper always saves balls that land on the right, you can aim for the left. You also work out the angle at which to hit the ball without even thinking about it!

2:30pm: Time for Art class!

When drawing faces, you think about fractions and shapes so that you can make it look as realistic as possible. If you draw an egg shape and then draw a line halfway across, you can work out where to put the eyes. One head is about five eyes wide, so you can estimate where the two eyes will go. Maths is used very frequently in art – da Vinci used maths to paint the Mona Lisa!

4:15pm: Walking home from school

Grocery shopping

You can use multiplication to work out what the cost will be if you buy more than one of the same thing, or use percentages to check the price with a discount.

6:05pm: Making dinner

A recipe might tell you that it will serve eight people and you only need to feed four, so you can halve all of the ingredients. You also need to know how long it will take each item to cook – for example, pasta, sauce and bread – and then work out the order you need to cook them so they are all ready at the same time.  

These are just some of the mathematical decisions we make every single day, and that’s not even thinking about the specific maths decisions as we get older, such as looking at interest on bank accounts, taking out mortgages, working out whether we can afford a new car, planning journeys… The maths goes on!  

Looking for more ways to bring maths to life? Check out some fantastic jobs that all use maths in exciting and unexpected ways!

Discover Real World Maths


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