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Numerical Expression Evaluation with Basic Operations

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Credit: jim212jim
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/65484630@N00/146210872
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Your parents have had enough. They want you to start doing your own laundry. So, you’ll just throw a bunch of your dirty clothes in the washer, dump in some soap, and hit the “start” button, right? You could do laundry that way—if you wanted to ruin your clothes. In laundry, like in math, order matters.

The Right Way to Wash Clothes

In math, order of operations helps you find the correct answer to a problem. In laundry, it keeps you from ending up with pink socks or shrunken T-shirts. Before you start a load of laundry, read the directions on the machine. Different machines will tell you to add detergent and fabric softener at different times. Then, sort your clothes. Don’t wash bright colors with white shirts unless you want everything to turn pink. Pay attention to the instructions on the labels of your clothes. Put clothes that get washed at the same temperature in the same load. If you’re using liquid detergent, add the detergent first, followed by your clothes. If you’re using powdered detergent, first choose your cycle and allow the machine to fill part of the way. Then, add the detergent and let it dissolve. Finally, add your clothes.

Credit: Michael Gabler
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hallig_Hooge,_Germany,_view_from_the_Backenswarft.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

When the washer is finished, dry the clothes. Some clothes may need to hang dry. Select the proper dryer temperature, or your favorite T-shirt may shrink. If you’ve followed the correct order of operations, you should end up with a load of clean and dry clothes, all without your parents’ help.

See for yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZzPaeeLhFs

Explore More

Can you think of any other everyday tasks in which order of operations matters? Explain why the proper order of operations is crucial for completing that task.

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