math for liberal arts


MTH 151 – Mathematics for the Liberal Arts I
General Problem Solving Strategies Application Directions
This assignment will help you practice applying what you
have learned about general problem solving strategies to real problems or situations,
and communicating about mathematical ideas with others.

Pick a problem:
Option 1:  Pick a real problem that you need to solve
and use the different general problem solving strategies to try to find a
solution.  For example, perhaps you need
to figure out how to pack an awkward item in your car trunk, or decide what to
spend the most time studying for an exam in another class, or plan the
assignments and schedule for a charity clean-up project you are organizing.
Option 2:  Pick a real problem that someone else has
solved and describe the general strategies they used.  This could be a friend or relative who solved
a problem like the ones described in Option 1, or it could be a historical
person, like George Washington Carver, who invented peanut butter and many
other things, or Mary Anderson, who invented the windshield wiper.
Option 3:  Pick a currently unsolved problem, like
curing cancer or finding better energy sources, and analyze how people are
using the different problem solving strategies to find a solution.
Solve the problem or analyze the
If you are solving your own problem,
use the different general problem solving strategies that you learned about in
this unit to try to solve it.  If you are
analyzing a problem someone else solved, or is trying to solve, identify the
different general problem solving strategies used.
Present the problem, the general problem
solving strategies used, and the solution to the others in the class:
Post a message in the application
discussion forum for this unit.  In your
message, describe the problem and how you solved it.  Use the equation editor as necessary to show
any mathematical operations.  The better
you communicate, the more points you will earn. 
If you enjoy and know how to use multimedia, such as video, audio, and
graphics, you may use those as well, but this is not required.
View and respond to the
application problems submitted by your classmates.
Pick two of your classmates’ applications
that were particularly helpful to you. 
Write a response to each, explaining in a paragraph or two why their
applications helped you better understand the mathematics for this unit or better
understand how the mathematics for this unit could be used outside of class.
Background: This
Saturday is the annual chocolate chip cookie bake sale event. At each of the
last 2 bake sale events, there were 600 people who attended. Every annual bake sale
must receive 600 attendees. Every attendee eats 5 cookies each.
Problem: We must
raise $1,500 for our daughter’s team travel expenses. How many cookies must we
make and how much money must each cookie sell for in order to raise the
appropriate money?
1) The amount of cookies to make are 600 (attendees) times 5 (cookies eaten per
person) equals 3,000 cookies to make. 2) 3,000 (cookies made) divided by $1,500
(money needed) equal 50 cents per cookie.
Other Topics:  shipping textbooks, pattern recognition, MPG,
budgeting, transportation, metric/English conversions, lottery, time
management, retail sales, volume of dirt on a softball field, tipping at a
restaurant, yard sales, auto part manufacturing, room design, rate of change,
estimate the square root of 3 to two decimal places with a calculator without square
root key
Grading Rubric:

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Grading Criteria

Points Possible

The problem:

Is it a
real-life problem?
Is it
challenging, not trivial?


The strategies:

Are one
or more general problem solving strategies used?
Are the
strategies correctly identified?


The presentation:

Is the
problem explained well?
Are the
problem solving strategies explained well?
Are the
appropriate terms used?


Your responses:

Did you
post at least two responses?
Did you
explain how the examples helped you better understand the math in this
Did you
ask questions for clarification or make suggestions on how to change or
improve the original application posting or any other follow-up


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