Math
Building or Adding to Computer Systems

Teach Me!

Goal:

You will learn how to solve math word problems using the four-step method.

What is a math word problem?

A math word problem is a real life situation that requires math for the problem to be solved. For example, every time we spend money, we are presented with a math problem.

How does the four-step method solve math word problems?

Word problems in math can be confusing. Solving problems requires performing several actions. There are four steps:

Step 1: Understand

What is the problem? What are you asked to do?

Step 2: Plan

What do you need to do to solve the problem? Choose a problem-solving strategy.

Step 3: Work

Carry out the plan. Do any necessary calculations.

Most math problems require attention to detail. Setting up and buying a computer system requires attention to the details of printed sales material, such as cost and what the parts or components do. Let's look at an example of a math word problem that deals with buying a computer system. For now, if you do not know any of the abbreviations or acronyms in the problem below, don't worry. We explain those in the Let Me Try It! part.

For three years, Laurie has been using her mom's old computer. It does word processing and some art. The printer, which was slow anyway, quit working a year ago. She really needs a new computer that will allow her to write book reports, and she would like to be able to play games.

Math Word Problem

Laurie has made the following shopping list: 15-inch color monitor, fairly fast CPU with 256K cache, basic keyboard, mouse, joystick, word processing software, and color printer. If possible, she would also like to get the Castle Monsters computer game.

Laurie has been following online computer ads and knows the prices for the components she wants: monitor—\$150, 600 MHz CPU, 256K cache—\$244; basic keyboard—\$20, mouse—\$20, joystick—\$75; word processing software—\$280; inkjet color printer—\$150; laser color printer—\$500; and Castle Monsters computer game—\$40. Laurie has \$900 to spend (she saved \$400 and her grandfather offered to give her \$500) for a new computer system. Because she'll buy the computer online, in her state she will pay no taxes. What can Laurie buy?

Using the Four-Step Method

Step 1: Understand

What is the problem? What are you asked to do? Figure what Laurie can buy for \$900.

Step 2:
Plan

What do you need to do to solve the problem? Choose a problem-solving strategy. Add the prices of the necessary components. Then add other components until the total reaches \$900.

Step 3:
Work

Carry out the plan. Do any necessary calculations.

 Necessary Components Price 15-inch color monitor \$ 150 600 MHz CPU with 256K Cache 244 Basic keyboard 20 Mouse 20 Word processing software 280 _____________________________________________ Subtotal \$ 714 Other Components Inkjet color printer + 150 _____________________________________________ Total \$ 864