50 Awesome Writing Prompts for Math

Most people don’t spend much time writing about math. Generally speaking, the thinking is that you should spend more time doing math problems if you want to develop a better understanding of the subject. However, writing about math can be a surprisingly good way for interested individuals to get some perspective on the matter.

Check out these 50 writing prompts for math:

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1. Name an Example of How You Use Addition in Real Life.

This should be one of the easier writing prompts. After all, everyone uses addition from time to time.

2. Name an Example of How You Use Subtraction in Real Life.

Similarly, interested individuals should have no problem remembering examples of them using subtraction in their daily lives.

3. Name an Example of How You Use Multiplication in Real Life.

The same should apply to multiplication. Granted, a lot of people like using calculators for these math problems. That is particularly true because Statista mentions high cell phone ownership rates in the United States.

4. Name an Example of How You Use Division in Real Life.

Division problems come up just as much as multiplication problems.

5. How Do You Calculate Simple Interest?

Simple interest is based on a principal at an interest rate over a period. It is one of the best ways to introduce someone to the concept. Moreover, simple interest sees occasional use, meaning it can be practical.

6. How Do You Calculate Compound Interest?

Compound interest is more complicated because the interest can generate more interest. Understanding the ins and outs of the concept is critical because it is so common.

7. How Do You Calculate Continuous Compound Interest?

Continuous compound interest is a more extreme form. The “continuous” in the name says exactly what interested individuals should expect. Fortunately, Investopedia and other resources give helpful information on the topic.

8. Explain the Concept of Zero.

Zero is a surprisingly complicated topic. Discovery points out that it wasn’t an automatic part of our mathematical repertoire. We know this because we can trace its spread from culture to culture in ancient times.

9. Explain the Concept of Fractions.

Fractions are another often-used concept. Explaining them gives interested individuals a convenient way to test their understanding.

10. Explain the Concept of Negative Numbers.

Negative numbers are another concept that took some time to secure full acceptance. Looking into the relevant history can help people attain true mastery.

11. Why Does the Formula For Calculating Perimeter Work?

Explaining the formula for calculating perimeter should be a simple process. Still, it shows that someone understands what is happening in the process.

12. Why Does the Formula For Calculating Area Work?

The area of a 2D shape is a more complicated topic. As such, interested individuals should expect to put more effort into this writing prompt.

13. Explain How to Calculate the Area of a Triangle.

As always, explaining how to do something can make people better at doing that thing.

14. Explain How to Calculate the Area of an Obtuse Triangle.

Obtuse triangles have an interior angle greater than 90 degrees. Despite this, interested individuals should know this writing prompt is a trick question. There is a single formula for calculating the area of a triangle. The sole difference is that figuring out the height of an obtuse triangle is a bit different from figuring out the same for other triangles.

15. Explain How to Calculate the Area of a Square.

Calculating the area of a square is as simple as it gets.

16. Explain How to Calculate the Area of a Parallelogram.

Once again, this is a trick question. Parallelograms look tricky. However, interested individuals might find it helpful to envision them as quadrilaterals with a portion cut off before being relocated elsewhere.

17. Explain How to Calculate the Area of a Circle.

Figuring out the area of a circle would be a nightmare for people starting from scratch. Fortunately, the value of pi is common knowledge.

18. Explain How to Calculate the Area of an Oval.

Speaking of which, figuring out the area of an oval isn’t much more complicated than calculating that figure for its perfectly proportioned counterparts.

19. Why Does the Formula For Calculating Volume Work?

Of course, volume is even more complicated than area.

20. Explain How to Calculate the Volume of a Rectangular Prism.

People tend to be introduced to rectangular prisms early on. Thanks to that, they shouldn’t find this too much of a struggle.

21. Explain How to Calculate the Volume of a Triangular Prism.

Calculating the volume of a triangular prism can look more intimidating. In truth, it isn’t that hard.

22. Explain How to Calculate the Volume of a Sphere.

Similarly, interested individuals should have no problem explaining how to calculate the volume of a sphere.

23. What Is Pi?

Pi is an often-used figure. Interested individuals should be able to explain what it is.

24. How Did We Get Pi?

On a related note, people had to calculate pi before others could use it. The Exploratorium gives some information on how this happened.

25. What Is a Base-10 System?

Base-10 refers to the standard system in use. People might be more familiar with it under the name of the decimal system.

26. Describe How a Base-10 System Works.

We tend to understand base-10 on an intuitive level. That doesn’t necessarily mean we know how to describe it to others. Successfully doing so should make for an improved understanding of the concept.

27. What Is a Base-20 System?

What we take for fundamental truths isn’t necessarily so. A base-10 system isn’t the only one that can exist. Indeed, it isn’t even the only one in widespread use.

29. Describe How a Base-20 System Works.

Describing how a base-20 system works might be easier for some but harder for others because of the lack of familiarity.

30. Research a Culture That Used a Non-Base-10 System.

Not every historical culture used a base-10 system. For instance, Mexicolore says the Aztecs used a base-20 system. That explains why they used 400 to mean an enormous number, whereas the ancient Greeks and ancient Chinese used 10,000 for the same purpose.

31. Who Was Pythagoras?

Pythagoras was a well-known Greek philosopher. Even now, his name is familiar because of the Pythagorean theorem.

32. How Does Pythagoras’s Work Continue to Impact the Present?

Amusingly, we don’t know much for sure about the man. Still, it isn’t necessarily bad for people to learn that. Sometimes, there are no concrete answers. Instead, we have to make do with the bits and scraps we can piece together.

33. Who Was Euclid?

Euclid was another well-known Greek philosopher.

34. How Does Euclid’s Work Continue to Impact the Present?

Specifically, Euclid made contributions to geometry. People might recognize “Euclidean geometry” and “non-Euclidean geometry.”

35. Who Was Archimedes?

Archimedes might be even better known than the preceding figures. Some people will recognize him because of the buoyancy story. Others will recognize him because of his contributions to the Siege of Syracuse.

36. How Does Archimedes’s Work Continue to Impact the Present?

Sadly, Archimedes can’t take credit for military heat rays. Still, he made lasting contributions elsewhere.

37. Who Was Brahmagupta?

Chances are good that Brahmagupta is a less familiar name to most interested individuals.

38. How Does Brahmagupta’s Work Continue to Impact the Present?

Despite that, he was old enough to play an influential role in laying down the rules of interacting with zero.

39. Who Was Bhaskara II?

There were two famous Indian mathematicians named Bhaskara. The “II” indicates that this was the one who lived in the 12th century rather than the 7th century.

40. How Does Bhaskara II’s Work Continue to Impact the Present?

Bhaskara II made various contributions. One excellent example would be the discovery dividing by zero results in infinity.

41. Who Was Fibonacci?

Strictly speaking, Fibonacci wasn’t the man’s name. It is a shortened version of filius Bonacci, which is Latin for “son of Bonacci.” Still, it isn’t hard to see why people continue to use that name, seeing as how Leonardos weren’t exactly uncommon in medieval Italy.

42. How Does Fibonacci’s Work Continue to Impact the Present?

Of course, Fibonacci is famous for the Fibonacci sequence. Moreover, he did a great deal to popularize the use of the Indo-Arabic numeral system in the west. Anyone who has ever tried to write math problems using letters should have no issue recognizing the value of that contribution.

43. Who Was Rene Descartes?

Rene Descartes tends to be better known for his philosophy than anything else. However, interested individuals should remember that it was much easier for people to be polymaths in the past than in the present. Furthermore, philosophy was a much broader field in pre-modern times, thus encompassing subjects that fall under other labels nowadays.

44. How Does Rene Descartes’s Work Continue to Impact the Present?

Graphmakers should be familiar with Descartes’s contributions. After all, the Cartesian plot is named after the man because he published the concept. Pierre de Fermat also came up with something similar. The issue is that no publishing meant no share in the credit.

45. Who Was Issac Newton?

On a related note, Issac Newton was another polymath from early modern Europe. Indeed, his interests ranged even further than people might expect. After all, PBS and other sources point out the man was an alchemist.

46. How Does Issac Newton’s Work Continue to Impact the Present?

Newtonian physics dominated thinking for centuries. Even now, we continue to use it throughout the sciences because it describes much of the universe accurately.

47. Who Was Leonhard Euler?

Leonhard Euler was one of the greatest mathematicians ever.

48. How Does Leonhard Euler’s Work Continue to Impact the Present?

Unsurprisingly, Euler’s influence can be found throughout the modern world. Some examples are relatively small. To name an example, he was the one who popularized the use of pi to mean the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. Other examples are much more profound. Euler was a pioneer in everything from complex analysis to infinitesimal calculus. He is too modern for his name to be familiar to every math student. Still, those who study the subject at higher levels will encounter his name again and again.

49. Who Was Alan Turing?

Math remains as relevant as ever. If anything, it sees use in a wider range of fields than ever before, with computer science being an excellent example. Alan Turing was a mathematician considered a forefather of theoretical computer science. He played a critical role during the Second World War because he was one of the leading figures in British cryptanalysis. As such, it is no exaggeration to say that he was one of the people who enabled the Allies to gain a massive intelligence advantage over the Axis by cracking intercepted messages.

Sadly, Turing’s tale did not end well. He was a homosexual man at a time when homosexuality was still criminalized in the United Kingdom. Eventually, he was punished with chemical castration in 1952. Subsequently, Turing died in 1954. Generally speaking, it is believed that he committed suicide by biting a poisoned apple, which is connected to his fondness for the Disney take on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. With that said, some believe that his death was an accident, with his mother being one of them. One biographer suggested that Turing might have wanted to leave the circumstances of his death ambiguous so that it wouldn’t hurt his mother.

50. How Does Alan Turing’s Work Continue to Impact the Present?

Turing’s influence is everywhere because computer science is everywhere. Moreover, he is surprisingly important in the field of artificial intelligence. The Turing test remains an important concept for determining whether something exhibits human-like intelligence or not.

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