Ali's Algebra

We have a blue can at home where we put all of our coins. Instead of carrying heavy wallets around, we put all our coins in this blue can and make use of the coins to buy taho, to pay for mall parking (the attendants must hate us for giving them 30 P1 coins!), etc. It's a good way to lighten our wallets and reminds us to use coins for those little expenses.

Quite recently, Ali discovered that can. She even knows how to say "coin" now. One of her favorite activities is to get that can, put out all the coins, and throw them all around the floor.

One time, Ali and her dad were both on the floor. Ali was quickly emptying the can while Daddy Manuel was furiously trying to put the coins back. From time to time, Ali would say: "Hey. Hey." -- as if to tell her Dad, "What do you think you're doing?"

Watching them amused me (despite the mess and the noise) and reminded me of those useless Algebra problems we used to solve in high school and which I reminded Daddy about at that instant. Remember those two trains leaving two stations? Then they give you the speed at which each train travels and then they ask how long before the two trains meet? I always thought about what the relevance of that was. Or that pool problem - where you have a pipe emptying the pool at this rate and another pipe filling it at this rate and what time the pool will be filled? Goodness gracious. How should I know?

So Algebra does have some application in the real world. Figure out this problem: Ali throws out coins from a blue can at a rate of 1 to 5 coins per throw, depending on her mood. Daddy pathetically tries to restore order to the room by putting back the coins while Ali screams: "Hey. Hey." How long before they get on each other's nerves and go bonkers?

All kids are created equal. Parents solve for the unknown.

[By Angelica Viloria | Thursday, January 29, 2004]


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