Math helps us to think logically. We carefully state the problem, plan out our solution, execute steps in the appropriate order, and evaluate the solution.

Math helps us to identify patterns and relationships. Two things that may at first glance appear very different, may turn out to be mathematically very similar.

Math helps us keep score - not just in sports, but in everything that we measure: time, distance, money, cooking quantities, building materials, etc.

Math helps us make better choices: Is the economy size of toothpaste really worth it? How much highway driving makes a hybrid car a better value?

Sometimes math helps us make the best choice. Is there a way to use the least amount of fencing to cover a certain area?

Math helps us decide whether the conclusions of polls are reasonable or not. If someone tells you that "Three out of four college students prefer Whompers" - do they really?

Math is crucial in the natural sciences like physics and chemistry, but it is also important in the social sciences such as economics and sociology. Most college majors require at least some mathematics. Limiting the math that you study may limit your career options.

Math has connections to subjects where you might not expect it - art, music, and poetry are a few. Did Shakespeare really write all the plays commonly attributed to him - mathematicians have attempted to answer this.

If you are in school now, you may live for another fifty years, or more. Technology is changing so rapidly, and no one can predict the skills that people will need in the workplace or at home in the coming years. Most math teachers would be willing to bet that you will be better prepared for the future by getting a good background in math.

Math can be fun. Just as we play games, do crossword puzzles, and read mysteries for fun, math shares characteristics with all of these.

What if the electric cash register stops working at the store? You still have to make change.

Some futher sources:

Ask Dr. Math: Why Math?

Why Study Math? by Mr. Flip

Some U Akron students answer this question for themselves.

Some of my favorite problems to try with your friends:

Suppose you are out with some friends. Everyone orders a drink. Every pair of people clinks their glasses. How many clinks are there in total?

And speaking of drinks, take a look at the glass holding that drink. Is that glass a little short? In fact, I think it is so short, that the circumference of the top of the glass is probably larger than the height of the glass. Do you agree?

If there are at least 27 of you together (or at least 9, and everyone pretends his or her two parents are there too), then the chances are excellent that at least two of you share the same month and day birthday. Here is the calculation.

And finally, a mathematical exercise. Have everyone stand and do the following: Stand on your left foot and raise your right foot in the air. Move your right foot in clockwise circles. With your right hand, pretend you have a pen and draw an imaginary 6 in the air. Are you still making clockwise circles with your right foot?

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