One of the things that we love to do at School is Easy Tutoring is make seemingly abstract concepts accessible to children. It’s a shame many students complain their schooling is useless in the ‘real’ world, because ‘book learning’ can often be very practical. Sometimes it just takes the right approach to show children how their academics can be used to inform many real-life decisions. We’ve done this approach in the past by showing how you can teach math when bowling or how baseball can be a great way to learn statistics. Now we’re applying this method to something new — we’re teaching kids math with cars.
Looking at the speedometer is a great tool for teaching kids math with cars
The speedometer may be the most obvious way you can start teaching kids math with cars. It would probably be best to first explain what a speedometer is to your students and how it functions. The next step would be to try doing some basic arithmetic drills with cars regarding speed. This can be the fun part — you can make it a game!
For example, ask your children to look at the speed limits for each area you are in. When you want to go on the highway, tell your students to look at the speedometer, then look at the signs indicating maximum speed. Ask your kids to tell you how much faster you have to go to get up to speed on the highway. This can be a great exercise in real-life applications of arithmetic.
Then you can lay it out as a math equation:
How much faster we need to go = speed limit – current speed
So in other words, let’s use this example:
30 = 80 (typical highway speed limit) – 50 (typical city speed limit)
You can also make a game out of slowing down. For example, if you are coming off a city road and entering a school zone, ask your students how much slower you need to be to drive safely.
Look out the window of your car, and you can even teach children simplified physics
If you are so inclined, you can even teach one of the most basic parts of the theory of relativity. While going in depth into this topic may be asking a little too much from children, you can give them a little taste about what relativity is all about.
At its simplest, relativity means that everything is moving at a speed relative to something else, and observations can differ depending on how fast you are going. This For Dummies article gives the example of two spaceships. This may be a little too complicated for children, but you can teach a similar — albeit simpler — lesson by looking at cars on a road.
For example, let’s pretend you’re driving down a road and you are going 50 kilometers per hour. Let’s say there is a vehicle in a lane beside you going 50 kilometers per hour as well. You can point out that relative to your car, the other vehicle is travelling at zero kilometers per hour. Show your students that it looks like the vehicle is standing still right beside your car when they’ve matched speeds.
In simple math, it’s
The speed of the other driver – your speed = relative speed
So 50 – 50 = 0
As another example, if you are travelling 50 kilometres per hour and another car is travelling at 60, it will look as if the other car is racing ahead at 10 kilometres per hour.
In this case, it’s 60 – 50 = 10
Teaching kids math with cars can make the subject ‘real’!
The most important thing about these focused math lessons is making ‘book learning’ relevant to ‘real life.’ See if you can find other parallels between driving and math (there are lots). For example, you can teach kids math with cars by examining tire pressure, gas prices and engine sizes. Have fun with it!
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