Math for the Seventh Decade…Back to Fifth Grade

imageThere is no subject for which the statement, “I have forgotten more than I ever knew” rings truer than Math. While I managed to make good grades in math, Algebra, Geometry…that’s where I dropped off the math train in high school, I have retained only rudementary functions into adulthood. Terry would undoubtedly take exception to that since my subtraction skills as evidenced by reconciling the checkbook still seem lacking. No one is more grateful for the calculator than I. However, the calculator, although admittedly amazing cannot tell me how to do the problem in the first place.

I am not alone! Thank you very much. That much is perfectly clear by the million or more wrong answers to the following problem presented on Facebook:

Fortunately, in my circle of Facebook Friends two mathmeticians stepped forward, when I reposted the above problem with my WRONG answer of ONE, or possibly FIVE and set me straight. One even explained, probably while shaking her head, the ORDER OF OPERATION for a math equation PEMDAS.

Don’t you love a new acronym? And, yes, I had to ask.

PEMDAS: order of operation : parentheses, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, subtraction.

What else have I forgotten? Well, I decided to check out
Fifth Grade Math Concepts. Did I learn all that in Fifth Grade? If so, why do some of those concepts look completely foreign to me.

So, as a part of the First Year of my Seventh Decade, I am going to challenge myself with math problems and concepts. Not going crazy here, just need to wake up some of those analytical brain cells.

Remember STORY PROBLEMS, I discovered Word Problem with problems like this one. Go ahead, find the answer.

Derek from ABC Potato farm is preparing to plant a crop of potatoes this spring. The field will have 397 rows of potatoes with 132 plants in each row. Derek estimates that they will plant the entire field in 11 hours with their planting machine.

How many potato plants are there in all? ______

How many potatoes will be planted each hour? ______

Amazingly, with my obvious lack of mathmatical brain power, back in the day, I did after grueling Preparation pretty good on the math portion of ACT and later Graduate Record Examination(GRE) exams. They were not my highest scores but OK.

They did let me into college and then into graduate school.

Still it is pretty CLEAR that after 50 plus years, I have forgotten more than I ever knew. So I will try to improve my memory and math skills starting with 5th grade problems and concepts, but I may have to drop back to 2nd or 3rd grade.


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