Translating Words to Mathematic Expressions

Objective: Students will be able to identify the words which are necessary for solving word problems.


This book is designed to help students determine the key terms used in equation making.  

It is another innovative creation by

Andrew Burell

Carla Kidney

& Elizabeth Cifu


In a hockey league, 87 players play on seven different teams. Each team has at least 12 players. What is the largest possible number of players on any one team?


First, we should find out how many players we need in order to have only twelve players per team.


Next, find the difference between the two values and add to twelve.

Sometimes a word problem will give you more information than you need.

For example:  The area of a playground is 700 square feet.  If the dimensions are 35 feet long and 20 feet wide how much fencing in required to enclose the playground? 

A salesman's commission varies as a result of his sales.  Write the formula representative of this situation and denote the variables.  If the commission is 100 dollars for every 1,000 dollars in sales, find the commission for 1,750 dollars in sales.


First we need to set up an equation to find the commission earned per sale.


Next we need to plug in the information that we know and solve for the missing variables.

In 1958, NASA began its search for astronauts to participate in Project Mercury-- the first man-in-space program.  The initial qualifications for astronaut candidates called for:

males between 25 and 40 years of age, who were at least 5 feet and 4 inches tall, but no taller than 5 feet and 11 inches.  

Write and graph a system of inequalities that represent the range of heights and ages for qualifying astronauts.

                                                    Photo courtesy of NASA
Project Mercury Astronauts:  Left to right: Scott Carpenter,
Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Gus Grissom, Walter Schirra,
 Alan Shepard, and Deke Slayton.

Creating a graph gives you a visual understanding of the range of possible answers.

Graph these four inequalities on one graph and turn it  in at our next class.

With respect to the equation below, identify the necessary figures in solving the equation:


Well, I am in some serious trouble.  I went way over my minutes on my cell phone.  Last month, I used 652 minutes of my 700-minute allowance.  My mother threatened that I would be grounded one week for every 10 minutes that I went over my plan.  Imagine my terror when my mother told me that I am now grounded until the end of the school year-18 weeks.


How many minutes beyond her plan, did the student use her phone?


As an extension


The challenge: Record all of the mathematic equations that you encounter in a day.  Even the very simple ones and don't discount time...when you are sitting in class and wondering how much longer is this class. 


Bring them to class tomorrow and be prepared to share.  We'll see who has the most Mathematical life.