3 Ways to Multiply Fractions
Multiplying fractions is a fundamental mathematical operation often learned by students as early as elementary school. It’s an essential skill that continues to be relevant in more complex math topics. Understanding multiplication of fractions can also serve as a solid foundation for grasping more advanced concepts. In this article, we will explore three methods for multiplying fractions: the standard method, cross-cancellation, and using fraction bars.
1. The Standard Method
The standard method for multiplying fractions is straightforward and easy to remember:
Step 1: Multiply the numerators (the top numbers) to get the new numerator.
Step 2: Multiply the denominators (the bottom numbers) to get the new denominator.
Step 3: Simplify the resulting fraction if necessary.
For example, to multiply 2/3 by 4/5:
(2*4) / (3*5) = 8 / 15
So, the product of our two fractions is 8/15.
Cross-cancellation is a shortcut method for multiplying fractions that can make it simpler to work with large numbers or complex fractions. It involves simplifying the fractions before multiplying them. This can be done by finding common factors between numerators and denominators and removing those factors from both numbers.
Step 1: Identify any common factors between numerators and denominators.
Step 2: Divide each numerator and denominator by their greatest common factor.
Step 3: Multiply the simplified numerators together and multiply the simplified denominators together.
Step 4: Simplify the resulting fraction if necessary.
For example, to multiply 6/12 by 21/35:
Simplify both fractions:
6 / 12 = 1 / 2
21 / 35 = 3 / 5
So, our answer is 3/10.
3. Using Fraction Bar
Fraction bars are a graphical representation of fractions that can provide an intuitive way of multiplying fractions. To do this, you can create grid-like bars that represent the numerators and denominators for each fraction being multiplied.
Step 1: Draw fraction bars with horizontal segments representing the first fraction and vertical segments representing the second fraction.
Step 2: Shade the parts of each fraction being multiplied (numerators).
Step 3: Look at the shape formed by the intersection of the shaded areas, and count how many squares are shaded.
Step 4: Count the total squares in the entire grid.
For example, to multiply 2/4 by 3/6:
Draw a grid with four horizontal segments and six vertical segments.
Shade two horizontal segments and three vertical segments.
The intersecting area consists of six squares.
The entire grid has a total of 24 squares.
So, our answer is 6/24, which simplifies to 1/4.
Each method has its advantages when multiplying fractions. The standard method is easy to remember and works for any type of fractions. Cross-cancellation may save time by dividing before multiplying, especially when dealing with large numbers or complex fractions. Lastly, using fraction bars adds a visual component that may help with understanding. Experimenting with these different approaches will enable you to find which one works best for you or your students.