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Posted By Bryan Mixer, Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Does anyone still use formulas?  Or do we just put variables into a computer program and let it kick out an answer?  

When I was freshman in high school, I was taught quadratic equations.  I am not sure that I ever really learned them.  
One Sunday afternoon my dad wanted me to help him do something, and found me at the dining room table with my algebra book doing the homework.  As I labored over the problem, going step by step, using half a sheet of paper and twenty minutes to solve one equation, my dad leaned over my shoulder and bellowed "It's SIX!  Look at it, it's OBVIOUSLY six!"  That was the last time my dad (an engineer at John Deere who majored in both math and physics) was allowed to "oversee" my math homework.

How many of us who have "a bit of experience" today look at the interns and want to say "it's six, just look at it!"  I know that I have, and on more than one occasion.  So where does the problem begin, and where do we solve it?  

My first thought is that the students should be taught on paper, with a pencil:  how to do takeoffs, how to use a formula, which formula to use at which time, all before they touch the computer system.  Until you know the basics, you can't possibly know the advanced.  I hope I do not sound like the angry old neighbor yelling at the kids to get off their lawn; but we, as a Society, need to find a solution before there is no one left who remembers "Length times Width times Height divide by 27."


Any ideas you want to share about your successes in this area ?


Bryan Mixer, CPE

Standards Committee

Tags:  standards 

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