There’s a familiar expression (or some variation of the expression) that says “there’s more than one way to scare a cat,” which simply means that there’s more than one way to do something. The activity Multi-Step Problem Solving with Rational Numbers helps students to understand that there’s more than one way to arrive at the solution to a problem.

This activity requires students to solve real world and math problems with numbers in different forms, using strategies of mental computation and estimation as well as equations and expressions. In this way students are able to see that numbers in the real world are often presented in different forms and they can develop strategies to work with these numbers.

Not every problem in the real world requires a precise solution. For example, centering a shelf on a wall may prove to be slightly off centered when measured precisely, but may appear perfectly centered to the eye. Students come to the realization that they can use estimation in a situation like this. On the other hand, determining the amount by which a person’s wage will increase when numbers are given in different forms require precise calculations and an understanding of how to convert and work with these numbers. So, I guess it must be true….there’s more than one way to scare a cat!