Who’s better at maths: you or the kids?

This isn't flower power, this is a maths lesson about daffodil debts!

How good is your maths? This post is by Nicola Baird, with some ideas loosely based on her book Homemade Kids.  My maths can embarrass me, but besides having a calculator handy the other secret I’ve found incalculable (I’m hoping this is a word) is to know that more is better, less is worse. I’ve also learnt that underspending on a budget (at work) is as bad as overspending… But as maths week, and maths assembly, are coming up at the primary school – and recently I’ve been asked to be the vice-chair of a secondary school finance committe, OMG –  and I’ve got six weeks plus of homeschooling later this year – I’m working hard to get my maths pepped up during March.

It makes a change from revising times tables.

This woman knows her stuff
At the Green Party conference economist Ann Petiffor was putting the fear of filthy lucre debt into the participants. See more about her life’s work here. This seems to have made a number of activists turn to a different sort of bedtime reading. In stark contrast I’d hoped to make March a no spend month. After opposition from my family I’ve decided to turn it into a keep a note of everything spent month in the hopes that this will enable us all to make better use of the money we have. Where do the pennies disappear is what I want to know (surely not papers, wine and chocolate?)

This airconditioning unit uses 1kW. What’s it mean?
Forget the fact that I’m not going to buy one of these. I just want to understand the wattage game.

On Yahoo I found an answer about the difference between kWh and kW. Knowing what this means is a very good way of buying and using only energy efficient gadgets – and helps focus the mind on switching off, and using less. Worryingly only one person rated this answer below as good, but I thought as a piece of storytelling it rated with that woman and her friend heading to the till with intended purchases using the offside rule… (see that hilarious story here published in the Guardian, by Lynne Truss who also wrote the fab book Eats, Shoots, Leaves)

(with thanks to Mark G off yahoo)

KWH is just KiloWatts(1000W = 1KW) times the number of hours that wattage is used…..

If you have a 1000W (1KW) hairdryer plugged in and running for an entire hour you would have 1 Kilo Watt Hour

1Kw x 1Hr = 1KWH

If that same 1000Watt hair dryer runs for 30 minutes (1/2 Hr)
you would have 1/2KWH

1 KW x 30Min(1/2 Hr) = 0.5 KWH

The KWH is just a way to describe a rate of how much power is consumed.

With the hair dryer example I can burn through the 1KWH in a single hour. But suppose that instead of plugging in a 1000W hairdryer I plugged in a 100W light bulb instead.

100W is one tenth of a KW , For the 100W light bulb to burn through a single KWH it would take 10 hours

0.1KW x 10 Hrs = 1KWH

So whether I use a hairdryer for a single hour OR a 100W light for 10 hours, in the end I will have consumed an equivalent amount of energy.

To think of this another way…. Say that 1KWH is like a bucket full of electricity. To use that bucket full of power I can either pour it out slowly (like through a small light bulb) or dump it out quickly like running a large wattage device like a hair dryer. Either way at the end I have consumed a standard quantity of electricity.

Tomorrow’s calculation
Next challenge is to find out how many steps I use – after all the aim is 10,000 a day – on the walk to school trek. Then I have to work out if I can ever make up that number by doing something else while I let my daughter walk to school on her own. It’s a strange sum to do, at odds with childhood independence, but now Nell’s 10 years this has to be figured out soon. As you can see I’m only just working out that maths is at the heart of so many decisions I make, how I wish it was as instinctive as words or reaching for a cup of coffee at 10am each morning. How about you?

Explore posts in the same categories: creative

One Comment on “Who’s better at maths: you or the kids?”

  1. Pete May Says:

    Is this post greater than the sum of its parts?

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