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## Algebra Solving – The "See Saw" Way

Many times students make careless mistakes in solving algebra questions while manipulating math terms. This is so because of the understanding of mathematical operations and the real meaning of the “equals” symbol that relates two mathematical expressions. Moving variables or math terms from the left side to the right side (or vice versa) of the “equals” symbol will pose a potential problem.

To cite examples **common mistakes** fact:

1) x + 5 = 4 became x = 4 + 5

2) 2y = 6 becomes y = 6 / (-2)

Math teaching and learning can be simplified through everyday applications. In this algebra solving case, teachers can use the playground concept “See Saw” to explain the solution of the math operation. “See Saw” is actually a play item and is a long wooden plank turned in the center where two children or adults can sit on either end and alternately move up and down. When both children are of the same weight and standing, the board will be level. When either side adds upward force, the other side will go down. This concept can be useful in solving algebra by understanding the balancing act.

Balancing the “See Saw” is similar to balancing the algebraic terms on either side of the “equals” symbol. In short, if the left side of the algebraic relationship has a new term added, the right side must also be added with the same new term on the left side in order to maintain balance and stay level. This is the true meaning of “equal”. Similarly, if the term is subtracted from one side, the same term must also be subtracted from the other side to maintain balance. Also, if one side is completely divided by a variable or math term, the other side must also be divided by the same thing to keep the “equal” meaning.

To explain this in mathematical terms, let’s show an example:

1) x + 6 = 3. To make x the only subject on the left side, we need to subtract the “6” from the left side. The “equals” symbol will not hold if the right side does not perform the same mathematical operation as the left side, i.e. to subtract “6” as well.

So x + 6 **– 6 **= 3 **– 6** which becomes x = -3 (correct answer). Is the concept simple?

2) 5y = 10. To make y the only subject, we must divide the left side of the math expression by 5. This forces us to also divide the right side by 5 to stay even.

So 5 years / **5 **= 10 /**5**. This results in y = 2 (correct answer). Look at the simplicity!

Everyday applications can be used to explain many operations in mathematics and should be used in teaching mathematics. In this example, if learners have this concept of the “See Saw” application form in solving algebra, they will not make more careless mistakes.

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