Everyday maths for Construction and Engineering 1
Everyday maths for Construction and Engineering 1

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Everyday maths for Construction and Engineering 1

2 Handling data

What does handling data mean?

A dictionary gives the following definitions:

  • Handle: To use, operate, manage.
  • Data: Facts, especially numerical facts, collected together for reference or information.

So, the phrase ‘handling data’ means being able to read, understand and interpret facts and figures.

You do this every day if you look at bus and train timetables, or diagrams, charts and graphs. All of these show complex information as simply as possible.

In fact, you’re surrounded by mountains of data! This could be the data collected from a large production of new builds to looking at the supply and demand for your company. For example:

  • tables that show price lists
  • maps or diagrams to show where the the new builds are situated on site
  • charts and graphs to show the division of overheads, labour, materials, profit, labour, research and development.

The job plan may provide all the information you need to compare the job costs and ensure that you are picking the right site for a profitable development: the tables. The charts, graphs and diagrams all make the information easier to understand.

Look at the following example of a construction estimating worksheet. It gives a lot of information about the type (category) of spending, how much was expected (projected) to be spent, how much has been spent (actual), the difference between the two, and the current status of that category.

Described image
Figure 1 Construction estimating worksheet

Example: The weather

If you look in a newspaper, it will probably have a section that tells you the weather forecast. It might even have this information in a table that looks like this:

Weather update

WeatherMin. temp.


Max. temp.


WeatherMin. temp.


Max. temp.


South and southwestA sun icon.22/7227/81A sun-and-showers icon.16/6121/70
MidlandsA sun icon.22/7228/82A sun icon.24/7531/88
ScotlandA sun icon.20/6824/75A lightning icon.19/6621/70
WalesA rain icon.15/5919/66A lightning icon.17/6321/70
Northern IrelandA lightning icon.18/6424/75A sun icon.21/7027/81

This could have been written out like this:

  • The weather today in the south, southwest, Midlands and Scotland will be sunny. In Wales there will be showers and in Northern Ireland there will be storms. Tomorrow it will be sunny, with showers in the south and southwest. It will be sunny in the Midlands and Northern Ireland, and there will be storms in Scotland and Wales.

Can you see how displaying the information in table form made it easier to understand?

Tables are made up of rows and columns. Rows are horizontal (that is, they go across the page) and the columns are vertical (up and down).

Described image
Figure 2 Rows and tables

To make sense of a table you need to have three things:

  1. A title that tells you what the table is about. In this table the title is ‘Weather update’.
  2. Row headings that tell you what is in each row. In the weather table the row headings are:
    • South and southwest
    • Midlands
    • Scotland
    • Wales
    • Northern Ireland
  3. Column headings that tell you what is in each column. In the weather table the column headings are:
    • Location
    • Today
    • Tomorrow

Tables can be very big, with many rows and columns – it depends how much information you are displaying.

For example, in a bus or train station you will see a huge timetable on the wall with many rows and columns. It is supposed to make the data easier to understand, but it is still complicated and easy to get confused.

Example: A bus timetable

Look at the following page from a bus timetable:

Described image
Figure 3 A bus timetable

Mr Newman would like to catch a bus from Woodgreen Avenue to visit his son in Bridge Street, in Banbury. He would like to get there before 8:45 a.m. What’s the latest bus he can catch to arrive at his son’s house in time?


The latest bus he could catch is the 8:21 a.m. bus from Woodgreen Avenue, which would arrive at his son’s house at 8:39 a.m.

Described image
Figure 4 A bus timetable (answer)

Now try the following activities. Remember to check your answers once you have completed the questions.

Activity 4: A trip to the builders merchant

The local builders merchant has the following opening times:

DayOpening timeClosing time
  1. When is the builders merchant open all day?
  2. When is the builders merchant open only in the afternoon?


  1. The builders merchant is open all day on Wednesday and Friday.
  2. The builders merchant is open only in the afternoon on Tuesday.

Activity 5: A car mechanic’s worksheet

At the end of the day a car mechanic decided to record all the different models of car that had come through the workshop that day.

Car typeNumber serviced
AudiA tally count of 5.A tally count of 1.
FordA tally count of 5.A tally count of 2.
MercedesA tally count of 2.
JaguarA tally count of 3.
CitroenA tally count of 5.
  1. The table does not have a title. What would be a suitable title?
  2. What are the row headings and column headings?
  3. How many Citroen cars did the mechanic service?
  4. How many cars did the mechanic service all together?


  1. A suitable title would be something like ‘Car models in for a service’.
  2. The row headings are ‘Audi’, ‘Ford’, ‘Mercedes’, ‘Jaguar’ and ‘Citroen’. The column headings are ‘Car type’ and ‘Number serviced’.
  3. The mechanic serviced five Citroen cars.
  4. The mechanic serviced 6 + 7 + 2 + 3 + 5 = 23 cars in total.


In this section you have learned about handling data, and specifically, how to present data in tables.


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