26 Snappy Answers to the Question “When Are We Ever Going to Use This Math in Real Life?”

Next time they ask, you’ll be ready.

As a math teacher, how many times have you heard frustrated students ask, “When are we ever going to use this math in real life!?” We know, it’s maddening! Especially for those of us who love math so much we’ve devoted our lives to sharing it with others.

It may very well be true that students won’t use some of the more abstract mathematical concepts they learn in school unless they choose to work in specific fields. But the underlying skills they develop in math class—like taking risks, thinking logically and solving problems—will last a lifetime and help them solve work-related and real-world problems.

Here are 26 images and accompanying comebacks to share with your students to get them thinking about all the different and unexpected ways they might use math in their futures!

1. If you go bungee jumping, you might want to know a thing or two about trajectories.


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2. When you invest your money, you’ll do better if you understand concepts such as interest rates, risk vs. reward, and probability.

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3. Once you’re a driver, you’ll need to be able to calculate things like reaction time and stopping distance.


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4. In case of a zombie apocalypse, you’re going to want to explore geometric progressions, interpret data and make predictions in order to stay human.

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Trigger an outbreak of learning and infectious fun in your classroom with this Zombie Apocalypse activity from TI’s STEM Behind Hollywood series.

5. Before you tackle that home wallpaper project, you’ll need to calculate just how much wall paper glue you need per square foot.

Dying Stop Motion GIF by Genevieve Blais - Find & Share on GIPHY

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6. When you buy your first house and apply for a 30-year mortgage, you may be shocked by the reality of what interest compounded over 30 years looks like.

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7. To be a responsible pet owner, you’ll need to calculate how much hamster food to have on hand.

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8. Even if you’re just an armchair athlete, you can’t believe the math involved in kicking field goals!

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Check out this Field Goal for the Win activity that encourages students to model, explore and explain the dynamics of kicking a football through the uprights.

9. When you double a recipe, you’re going to need to understand ratios so your dinner guests don’t look like this.

Math questions

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10. Before you take that family road trip, you’re going to want to calculate time and distance.

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11. Before you go candy shopping, you’re going to have to figure out X trick or treaters times X pieces of candy equals…?

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12. If  you grow up to be an ice cream scientist, you’re going to have to understand the effect of temperature and pressure at the molecular level.


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Explore states of matter and the processes that change cow milk into a cone of delicious decadence with this Ice Cream, Cool Science activity.

13. Once you have little ones, you’ll need to know how many diapers to buy for the month.

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14. Because what if it’s your turn to organize the annual ping pong tournament, and there are 7 players at a club with 4 tables, where each player plays against each other player?

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15. When dressing for the day, you might want to consider the percent likelihood of rain.

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16. If you go into medical research, you’re going to have to know how to solve equations.

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Learn more about inspiring careers that improve lives with STEM Behind Health, a series of free activities from TI.

17. Understanding percentages will help you get the best deal at the mall. For example, how much will something cost with 40% off? What about once the 8% tax is added? What if it’s advertised as half-off?


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18. Budgeting for vacation will require figuring out how many hours at your pay rate you’ll have to work to afford the trip you want.

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19. When you volunteer to host the company holiday party, you’ll need to figure out how much food to get.

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20. If you grow up to be a super villain, you’re going to need to use math to determine the most effective way to slow down the superhero and keep him from saving the day.

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Put your students in the role of an arch-villain’s minions with Science Friction, a STEM Behind Hollywood activity.

21. You’ll definitely want to understand how to budget your money so you don’t look like this at the grocery checkout.

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22. If you don’t work the numbers out in advance, you might at some point regret choosing that expensive out-of-state college.

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23. Before taking on a building project, remember the old saying—measure twice, cut once.

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24. If have aspirations of being a fashion designer, you’ll have to understand geometry in order to make the perfect twirling skirt


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Geometry and fashion design intersect in this STEM Behind Cool Careers activity.

25. Everyone loves a good bargain! Figuring out the best deal is not only fun, it’s smart!

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26. If you can’t manage calculations, running the numbers at the car dealership might leave you feeling like this:

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