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Mathematics applied to real life

2011  |  

MAPSMathematics do not just live in books. Their use and application are common in multiple situations in daily life. This can be seen in the project 4 Countries 4 Maths  which the IES Domingo Miral school in Jaca is participating in with three other European schools.

The aim is that the boys and girls see how mathematics can help them to understand the reality which surrounds them. One of the activities planned is to calculate the green areas in their city. Thanks to the new technologies and knowledge of arithmetic, algebra and geometry, they have been able to do this without leaving the classroom.



The activity Green areas in our city has motivated the pupils from different countries to calculate the size of the green lung in their city with Google Earth  and compare it with the others.

Google Earth (see tutorial) is an application which permits you to travel around the world through images and maps captured by satellite.  It allows you to look for a place or carry out more advanced actions like, for example, recording a journey. The pupils have used the drawing and measuring tool, an application which permits you to measure almost any area of the planet in a simple way, to calculate their green areas.


To calculate these data, first they drew some triangles over these zones and then they applied Heron’s formula.




But the benefits from 4 Countries 4 Maths went further. "The activity has also let us observe the urbanistic design of the city and made us aware of the importance to our lives of being able to count on green spaces " says Begoña Pueyo. To find out if a city is sustainable, the pupils have related the data obtained to the population. After consulting the census, the boys and girls have discovered that Jaca is an environmentally sustainable city as it complies with the WHO requirement which has established a minimum of 10 m2 per inhabitant.




Finally one of the most positive aspects of carrying out activities like Green areas in our cities has been the interest it aroused in the pupils. The teacher emphasizes how the students have participated much more than usual in the mathematics class. "The activity has also served to encourage cooperation among the pupils who worked in groups and distributed the tasks evenly among them" says Begoña.

Steps needed to discover the size of the green lung in your city

  • Draw a series of triangles over the different green areas.
  • Apply the Google Earth measuring tool to calculate the length of their sides.
  • Calculate the surface area using Heron’s mathematical formula.
  • Add up the areas of the different triangles and establish a ratio with the population of the city. The WHO states that for a city to be sustainable it must have a ratio of green zones of more than 10 m2 per inhabitant.

Mission accomplished! The pupils have discovered the extension of the green area in their city and they will also have realized that mathematics are necessary to understand the world around them.


This has not been the only activity applying mathematics to real life. The project 4 Countries 4 Maths has developed another three activities: Statistics applied to tree leaves, Volume of our classrooms and Mathematical Multilingual Dictionary. All of them can be consulted in their TwinSpace.

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