Monday, 3 November 2014

Numerous numbers processed

In my previous post I commented on the quantity of numerical data that we find ourselves processing all the time when driving a car these days. This shows both the importance of numeracy in real-life contexts, in two senses: (a) in a technological age a large proportion of communication is through numbers; (b) the principal reason for being 'numerate' is to ensure that we can handle with confidence information presented in numerical form. This almost always requires: a sense of number and an appreciation of the relationships between numbers; the ability to make estimates; understanding of measurements of various kinds and units in a practical context; confidence with concepts related to ratio, proportion and rate of change. It never seems to involve the need to perform paper and pencil formal, context-free calculations, to which those who designed our new curriculum have given so much prominence!

Anyway, here is the solution to the problem I set in my previous post:

15:35 was the current time
55 mph was my speed
80 kilometres per hour was the equivalent speed in metric
60 miles per hour was the speed limit displayed on the sat nav
3 × 1000 was the number shown on the rev counter
306 miles before I needed to top up with petrol
21 degrees C, the outside temperature
013399 the total mileage the car had done
¾ of a tank of petrol left
2 was the setting on the fan
R3 meant I was listening to Radio 3 (of course)
A17 was the road I was on
6.5 miles to the next junction
A1 the road ahead
5 indicating that I was in 5th gear
0:56 = 56 minutes estimated to reach my destination
16:31 estimated time of arrival
12V written on the adaptor for the satnav, for a 12 volt battery
120W likewise, indicating maximum 120 watts output

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