A Program of The Actuarial Foundation. Aligned with Common Core State and NCTM Standards.
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What is an actuary? An actuary is an expert in statistics who works with businesses, governments, and organizations to help them plan for the future. Actuarial science is the discipline that applies math and statistical methods to assess risk.

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Exploring Expressions and Equations

Variables and Scientific Notation

Developed by The Actuarial Foundation with Scholastic, the tiered program includes a focus on variables as well as an advanced portion on scientific notation. The lesson flexibly incorporates online and offline components, including:

  • A cutting-edge digital interactive activity launches students into writing expressions and equations by sending them on missions to Mars and the International Space Station!
  • Three engaging printable worksheets (see below) follow a biologist using variables and scientific notation to swim the length of the Amazon River.


lessonLesson: Exploring Expressions and Equations
In this two-part lesson, students will explore variables, including writing and solving expressions and equations. An advanced section on scientific notation is included.

toolDigital Interactive Activity: "Launching Into Expressions and Equations"

Launch your students into expressions and equations with this interactive tool. The “Mission to Mars” module covers variables, and the “International Space Station” module covers scientific notation.

lesson1Worksheet 1: "Using Variables in Equations"

In the role of a biologist, students will construct expressions and solve equations to prepare to explore the Amazon River by swimming it.

lesson2Worksheet 2: "Translating Word Problems Into Equations"

Students will translate real-world situations into equations while making observations about some of the species along the Amazon River.

lesson3Worksheet 3: "Performing Operations With Scientific Notation" (Advanced)

In this advanced worksheet, students will use scientific notation to quantify and process their findings from the Amazon River exploration.


Delve deeper into expressions and equations with the related programs Adventures in Expressions and Equations as well as Solving the Unknown with Algebra.

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