We received this question from a high school student in Florida:
…Recently, my Algebra 2 teacher assigned a project to see if men and women in important professions use algebra in real life applications. In our math book it claims that, “Firefighting pilots can use the Quadratic Formula to estimate when to release water on a fire.” My question to you is do you really use the Quadratic Formula to put out a forest fire? If not, how do you do it? Thank you very much for any help you are able to provide and have a great day!
Let’s hear from some pilots.
- When you’re dropping water or retardant do you silently solve the quadratic equation in your head? If not, how do you determine when to release the load?
- Are there any occasions in your day to day work activities when you use algebra?
In case you want to brush up on the quadratic formula: Wikipedia.