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Order of Operations

The order of operations outlines the order by which certain operatives should take place in a mathematical expression for it to remain true.

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Practice Order of Operations
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Temple Run
Teacher Contributed

Real World Applications – Algebra I


How do you compare video game highest scores?

Student Exploration

During 2011 and 2012, one of the most popular games on Apple products was Temple Run. Below is a screen shot from some of the highest scores recorded at the moment.

As you can see, one person’s highest score was 9,523,978 points. For reference purposes, let’s say this high score belonged to Denise. If you look to the far right, the highest score is 119,211,030 points. If we were to compare those two highest scores, I could say that the current highest score is more than TWELVE TIMES Denise’s highest score. An even more precise way to describe the highest score is that it’s 4,923,294 points more than twelve times Denise’s score.

If we were to describe this as an expression, we would write 12(9,523,978) + 4,923,294. Notice that the number of points added is at the end of the expression. (Adding before the end of the expression is one of the most common mistakes!)

If we were to simplify this expression, we would use the order of operations and MULTIPLY first, then add.

Extension Investigation

If you have an Apple product (like an ipod, ipad, or iphone), try playing the game. How would you compare your score to the highest score on this website (http://recordsetter.com)? How could you describe the highest score in relation to your score? What would the mathematical expression look like? If you were to simplify that expression, what operation would you do first? Which operation would you do next?

Why do we use the Order of Operations in mathematics?

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