Fractions & Decimals: Real World Applications

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  • 0:04 Real-World Application
  • 0:25 Decimals
  • 3:42 Fractions
  • 5:55 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Matthew Bergstresser

Matthew has a Master of Arts degree in Physics Education. He has taught high school chemistry and physics for 14 years.

Dealing with fractions and decimals is part of our daily lives. It is for this reason everyone needs to understand decimals and fractions. In this lesson, we discuss real world examples of decimals and fractions.

Real-World Applicaiton

How many times will the average teacher be asked, ''When will we ever have to use this in our lives?'' In a lot of subjects, the teacher may not have a great answer to this age-old question. Understanding fractions and decimals is very applicable in daily life. Let's go through some examples of decimal and fraction applications.


Decimals are values that are less than 1 that have a fraction equivalent. To turn a fraction into a decimal value using a calculator, we enter the numerator (the top value of fraction), press the division button, enter the denominator (bottom value of fraction), and press the ''equals'' key. For example, 0.25 is the equivalent of 1/4.

Decimals are used in situations where money is used. Coins are fractions of a dollar and are expressed as decimal values. Pennies are $0.01, nickels are $0.05, dimes are $0.10, and quarters are $0.25.

Different amounts of these coins can give us any fraction of a dollar, from $0.01 to $0.99. Let's look at an example of decimal use using money:

A man bought a slice of pizza and a drink. After he paid, he received 2 quarters, 1 dime, 1 nickel and 4 pennies. How much money did he receive in change?

How can we solve this? We can set up a table and add up the total value of coins he received.

Coins Received
Coin Penny Nickel Dimes Quarters
Value $0.01 $0.05 $0.10 $0.25
Quantity 4 1 1 2
Total $0.04 $0.05 $0.10 $0.50

Adding up the total value contributed by each quantity of coins we get:

$0.04 + $0.05 + $0.10 + $0.50 = $0.69

Now, let's look at how decimals are involved with vehicles. Gasoline prices are given as decimal values. For example, a gallon of gasoline might be $2.369.

Let's work a problem involving purchasing gasoline using the example of a man who bought the pizza in our previous example. His Italian sports car has a gas tank capacity of 26.4 gallons. How much would it cost to fill the gas tank from empty at $2.369 a gallon?

How do we solve this? Well, each gallon of gas costs $2.369 dollars, so if we want to know the price of 26.4 gallons of gasoline, we multiply these two values:

$2.369 × 26.4 gallons ≈ $62.54

Since we are dealing with a car, let's see how decimals are used in relation to cars. The Italian sports car from our previous example has its specifications listed as decimal values. Let's look at a chart of some of these values:

Italian Sports Car
Specification Value
Wheelbase 104.15 inches
Length 175.28 inches
Width 80.17 inches
Turning radius 41.17 inches

Let's use this data to work a real-world problem. Using the Italian car data table, determine the minimum circumference of the circle the car can turn through.

How do we solve this? Well, the equation for the circumference of a circle is C = 2πr. Let's plug in these values to determine the minimum circumference of the circle the car turns through. We will estimate π to be 3.14.

C = (2)(3.14)(41.17 inches) ≈ 258.55 inches

Now let's switch gears and focus on fractions.

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