Saturday, September 7, 2013

Staying Alive...with Real Life Math Stories

I like to "collect" math stories. From real life. Over the years I've amassed some good ones (including the one about the clerk who needed a calculator to compute 20-12!) but this last week one struck me...or perhaps "stuck" me.

I've started allergy shots again...something I've done repeatedly over my lifetime. I've never experienced anything more than a little localized reaction and since I've been on shots since May, I didn't really expect much at a recent injection.

But you need some numbers:
With each new bottle of serum, I start with a tiny amount, .1ml, and then move up to .2, then .3...each time going up by .1 until I reach .5 and then begin a new bottle with a stronger concentration. Last week, I received my second injection from the newest bottle, or .2ml. Tiny amount, right? Much less than those biggies at .4 or .5. Insignificant, really.

Hardly. Within 45 minutes of my shot I was in full allergy attack: sneezing, coughing, itchy throat, runny nose, and the scariest...wheezing, with air passages closing. To make a scary story short, I followed protocol and recovered.

But here's the math part...

I saw the allergy nurse this week and reflected on how odd the experience was. It was such a tiny amount: only .2ml. Ah, she said...that's what she used to think, too. Until someone pointed out that something significant happens during the .2ml shot. Can you figure it out? Again, I always get injections in this order:

.1ml
.2ml
.3ml
.4ml
.5ml

P.S. This is a reminder to collect "real life" stories like this to share with kids. Make it real! (But perhaps not THIS real!) :)

P.P.S. School starts up for me this week. Big Math Monday Blog Hop announcement on Monday!

1. OMG! You are doubling the dose! I never would have thought of that if you hadn't stacked the numbers. Your dose was doubled so of course you had a reaction! Food for thought! Smart nurse!
Camille

1. This comment has been removed by the author.

2. Camille... :)

3. I do not consider myself as having a good "math mind," but the only thing I can think of is that the dose is doubling. . . though how they could increase the dosage without having it double at some point I do not know. So sorry you had the reaction you did--very glad that you are doing fine now! This is interesting to me to think about, as our son has taken medication long term due to a seizure disorder, and they would always keep him on a liquid form when he was little so they could have us change the dose up or down easily.

1. TN Quiltbug, you have a great math mind!! ;)

4. It would be easy to go up by only 10% each time, if your original dose was big enough to measure 10% more.

Interesting!

What was the concentration of the two bottles?

1. Sue, I don't actually know anything about the concentration. That'd provide more interested mathematical thinking!

5. Yep -- doubled! Perhaps with this batch you needed to do .15 ml

1. !!! :) They went all the way back to .05! ;)

6. Hi, I have a few transition moments with my high school math students when we switch from computer work to group work/group lessons. The other day I asked my students your allergy shot question. They were captivated and intrigued. It was a great 4 minute transition with lots of discussion. Have you posted your other math stories that you mentioned anywhere? Thanks! Kim

1. Kim...very cool. I'll try to get some posted. I carry them around to workshops, but haven't ever put them on my blog.

Thank you for leaving me a message. I love comments almost as much as I love chocolate! And I do LOVE chocolate. :)

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