The Quadratic Formula

I failed high school.  Badly.  My grade point average, to be exact, was 2.2.  I slept through Math, literally.  I never got past basic algebra. I was good at “proofs” but bad at everything else. I just didn’t see the point.

Well, Karma has a wicked sense of humor.  Here is the joke:

A child asks his dad, “Why do I need to learn math?”  The father smiles and answers, “So you can do YOUR son’s homework one day.”

My children are now struggling with Math, specifically the Quadratic Formula.



My first instinct on this was the Google it.  I panicked and bought a subscription to  That may have been a mistake.  I then saw a video on the Quadratic Formula on Khan Academy.  Good information and make me slightly less panicky.  I knew what I needed to do.

I opened Excel.

I don’t know what the problem is, but Excel is the answer.  It is my favorite program and it would not let me down. I quickly prayed to Bill Gates, Please Obi-Bill, help me, you’re our only hope.

I looked at the formula and step-by-step-by-step, I reduced the formula.  One cell at a time.  At the end, I could plug any of the numbers in and it would spit out the answer immediately.  However, this wouldn’t teach the boy math! I needed to go further.

I used the Excel Formula Editor to write the actual formula on the sheet.  I used the numbers on the left to help fill in the gaps.  I reduced the formula until it was finished. I admit, my oldest son helped us a little, but the magic was in Excel.

Take a look at this masterpiece of an excel sheet detailing out the quadratic formula.

Excel should be used to teach everything about Math.  Writing with a pencil should be replaced with teaching kids how to use Excel to solve problems.  Kids would learn more math and science in the process.  I am convinced of this.  The cell-by-cell process works.  I wish I had it as a kid.

But hey, it’s never too late to learn math. (sarcasm – I hate math)

One reply on “The Quadratic Formula”

So I’m not clear if Jared learned any man or you just had fun with Excel. Also unclear on origin of spreadsheet…. Wasn’t that Lotus 123 or something? Although obi-bill is good anyway. 🙂

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