Using Excel to Help Solve Word Problems

Students often have difficulty solving word problems because they have trouble organizing the information that is presented.  While using a spreadsheet to organize this information is nothing magical, it is another mode of attacking problems that may help some students.  As an added benefit the spreadsheet's formulas do much of the computation automatically.

One of the problems that is solved in the attached spreadsheet are listed below.  Right click here and select Save Target As... to download the Excel sample file.  Please DO NOT double click the link as Internet Explorer will try to open the spreadsheet in your browser and it WILL NOT display properly.

Example 1                    
John has a new house.  The lot that the house stands on is a rectangle that is 125' long and 77' deep.  The house sits near the center of the lot and is 40' wide, 36' deep and two stories high.  There is a circular pond in the back yard that is 12' in diameter.  John needs to plant his new lawn with grass seed.  Each box of seed covers 500 square feet of ground.  How many boxes of seed does he need to purchase?  
  width length area (sq ft)              
Lot: 125 77 9625              
house: 40 36 1440              
pond: 12   113.0973355              
Lawn (lot-house-pond)     8071.902664              
grass (lawn / sq ft / box)     16.14380533              
boxes = 17 (rounded up)                    
In the box below please explain what you did to solve the problem      
The first line shows the size of the lot, the second the house and the third the pond.  The lawn is the size of the lot minus the house minus the pond.  The amound of grass needed is the total square footage of the lawn divided by 500, the number of square feet per box.  Since you can't but a partial box of seed the final answer is rounded up to 17.