Be it conversion from hundreds to thousands, or measuring oil precisely, decimals is a less spoken math notion that is apparent in our day-to-day life. Evidently, 2.25 pounds sounds more accurate than 2 pounds. Derived from the Latin word Decimus- implying ten, this concept deals with fractions with 10s at the denominator. Some spellbinding exemplars can make this abstract further comprehensible. Deliberating the same, we will live through nine such instances in the upcoming lines.
Of course, when dealing with it during school, it seemed quite daunting. We all pondered at one point or another whether we would ever use these mathematical conundrums in real life. Funnily enough, it turns out that there are enough scenarios that call for the need for using decimal points to precision to derive accurate conclusions from the scenario.
Decimals are so intricately used in different aspects of our lives that we don’t even realize oftentimes that we are actively engaged in applying the principles that we studied during school. In this post, we will dig deeper and evaluate a few scenarios where decimals are used extensively in real-life!
Applications of decimals in day-to-day life
1. Dealing with Money
The use of decimals is almost inevitable when it comes to dealing with money. There are so many situations when an odd value of currency needs to be split in half, $60 needs to be split into 7 parts, etc. In such scenarios, we use decimal points to represent the cents, and we do so without even realizing it. Many a time, especially in official situations, rounding up to the nearest digit isn’t a feasible option. You need to represent the value of the money using very accurate terms to the very last decimal to maintain transparency. Therefore, when it comes to dealing with money, you use decimal points very often and almost every day!
2. Purchasing Fuel
When you drive into the gas station, you pay for a certain amount of fuel and expect to receive it in full. Another way of dealing with it is to pay a certain amount and get your vehicle fueled for that amount. Depending on the current prices of petrol etc. which might not be represented as convenient whole numbers, the volume of fuel that you receive shall also vary. This is why, when you are purchasing fuel from the gas station, you will see that you have received 12.3 l instead of a rounded-up figure. Maintaining accurate decimal representations allow businesses to keep track of their sales without losing out on any money.
3. Scientific Calculations
When you think about it, most of the important numbers that we learn during school that was derived as part of scientific revelations are represented using decimals. Some of the most prominent examples of this are the Force of Gravity, which is represented as 9.8, the value of Pi, which is 3.14, and so on. In the scientific world, wherever mathematics is applied, there is no avoiding the decimal point. Accuracy is more important in science especially in the domains of physics and chemistry. Every value represents something very crucial, and therefore this is yet another daily application of decimal points.
4. Construction Projects
Whether you are an architect working on a big-time project and constructing a whole building from the start or you are just building a treehouse for fun, you cannot get anywhere without accurate measurements. And accurate measurements of length, breadth, and height are all represented using decimal points. You need to be very precise in the materials that you use so that the final result comes out as expected. You need to have a proper measure of the area that you are planning to construct on, and this does not necessarily have to be a whole number. Even the slightest miscalculation can lead to disastrous results in construction and architecture.
The medical field uses decimal points very regularly to represent many things. To begin with, many test result values are represented using decimal points, and sometimes, even the slightest variation in the decimal points are indicative of the presence of a disease. The different types of equipment that are used in the hospital including the thermometer and other lab devices have decimal points demarcated in them for the sake of accuracy of the results. When it comes to creating different drugs and preventive medicine such as vaccinations, the composition needs to be very accurate. Again, the different components of these products are measured carefully using decimal points to represent the exact value.
6. Health and Fitness
It is not just about keeping a track of your weight, where you use decimal points for the sake of accuracy as well. Many people who have decided to incorporate fitness into their daily routine tend to calculate the number of calories that they are consuming. To obtain an accurate value of calorie consumption, it is important to keep track of the exact amount of food that is being consumed. There are many food weighing machines that are available that represent the weight of the food product right to the level of milligrams. This is yet another important use of the decimal point. When you go to the gym, you will notice that the weights of the dumbbells that are available for lifting also are marked as 2.5 kgs and so on.
7. Dealing with Weight
Weight is yet another metric that needs to be represented accurately for clarity. Many a time, when you are purchasing something by weight, you will want to know exactly how many kilograms and grams of product you are receiving. This is because this determines how much money you will be paying for the purchase. Of course, the sense of accuracy is the most important reason why decimal points are included in place. This becomes even more necessary when we are dealing with objects of greater value, such as precious metals (such as Gold), which are priced heavily by the gram. Situations, where even the slightest value makes a huge difference, emphasize the importance of decimal points. Even when checking your weight, knowing the exact value will help you determine further metrics that allow you to assess your health.
Decimals are constantly used in professional sports to keep track of different metrics that determine the outcome of the game. To avoid any discrepancies and to make everything transparent, figures and percentages are depicted in decimal points. During athletics, the accurate speed of an athlete is calculated using decimal points. In another example, when you watch a game of cricket, you will notice that the speed of the ball is represented using multiple decimal points. Everything in sports is represented much better using decimal points which render everything fair and square.
9. Miscellaneous Calculations
When you get to the core of it, you realize that you use decimal points everywhere that you are performing any kind of calculation. Whether you need to use a device accurately for measuring something or you want to check the speed of your car on the odometer, you use decimal points. If you want to record your temperature and check if you have a fever, you are using decimal points again. When you tell your friend that you will meet them in an hour and a quarter, it’s easier for you to text them saying you’ll see them in 1.25 hours. Engineers and other professionals use decimal points for calculations daily.
10. Dealing with Length
Depending on your line of work, you might not exactly be measuring out the lengths of objects every day. The standard unit of measurement of length is the meter, and one-tenth of the meter is the centimeter, and one-tenth of this, the millimeter. When you want to accurately represent the length of any object that you have measured, you will have to include decimal points to indicate the centimeters or millimeters that you have measured along with the greater value. For example, you would say that the table is 1.2 m long, wherein you mean that the length of the table is 1 meter and 2 centimeters.
How to constructively teach decimals?
1. Decimal to Fraction Bingo
While there are plenty of games that can be played to learn decimals effectively; playing bingo cards can be equally beneficial for the little ones. You can print the bingo cards online for free and use them in a very low prep manner to teach decimals to children. The game boards and the cards for fractions can be printed out separately. They are easily available online. You will see those game markers are available in two different colors generally, and these need to be gathered together for this activity.
Once you have cut out the fraction cards, pass one to each player. Each person holding the card has to convert the fraction on the card to a decimal. This answer needs to be then entered into the bingo card. The cards shall then be passed on to other players. This goes on and on till someone gets five in a row. It’s a very simple and fun activity to get children to be interested in decimals and practice them actively.
2. Using Decimal Models
Basically, you print out grids and get the students to color them according to the decimal that they are expected to represent using the model. This activity can work in two ways. One set of grids can be used to get the children to represent the fraction in a decimal model, while the other can be already colored. Use this to get the child to guess the value of the decimal that is being represented. You can get these printed on stock paper using the templates that are readily available online. The number of grids depends entirely on the denominator that you wish to exhibit. A hundred grids are the best way to go when you are starting to introduce the concept of decimals to the students.
3. Coloring Activities
Among various other activities that can be introduced for teaching decimals, one of the most interesting activities you can make out of the learning experience is getting the children to color the value of the decimal represented quite cleverly. What you need to do is print out a list of images; it could be anything that is an outline and is ready to be colored. Represent a value on the top of the page.
For example, the value on the top is 2.55. Now under each of the images that are present in the printout, write out some equations. Make sure that a few of them add or subtract to 2.55. Now the goal of the activity is to color only those images under which the value of the equation totals to 2.55.
While the traditional learning methods can surely be advantageous for the little aspirants, worksheets about decimals also help students learn this concept easily, in a way that can be used constructively in real-life! Worksheets benefit the students by elevating their skills and giving them appropriate knowledge about the decimal concept. Moreover, it can also be a handy tool to evaluate the student’s understanding of the given topic. These can be printed and used further as homework, tests, practice sheets, and even for homeschooling.
We use decimals invariably while supervising cash management, weight, length, and so forth. Decimal numbers are employed in situations where more accuracy is needed than the whole sums can provide. For illustration, when we evaluate the weight on the gauging device, we don’t normally find out the weight is proportional to a whole number on the scale. To understand our appropriate weight, we should discern the decimal inducement on the scale. This component governs the notion of decimals in various integral domains of our customary life.
An engineer, Maths expert, Online Tutor and animal rights activist. In more than 5+ years of my online teaching experience, I closely worked with many students struggling with dyscalculia and dyslexia. With the years passing, I learned that not much effort being put into the awareness of this learning disorder. Students with dyscalculia often misunderstood for having just a simple math fear. This is still an underresearched and understudied subject. I am also the founder of Smartynote -‘The notepad app for dyslexia’,