Just like a median of a highway separates the middle of two roads, the median in math denotes the middle number in a set arranged in numerical order. This easy way of assessing numbers is yet another way to present averages, along with mean, mode and range.

EXAMPLE

24, 26, 26, 39, 44, 45, 60

Answer: 39.

Median is often a more fair representation of the average of the numbers rather than finding the mean. In this same group of numbers, as in this same example, when you find the median, the answer is 37.7: lower than the median.

**How is median used in real life?**

Children especially are hesitant to learn and apply new math techniques unless you can explain to them in precise detail how it will benefit them in the future. Teaches can surely explain that median is used in any number of situations.

–Salaries. When individuals consider moving to another city or state, most salary numbers are represented in median, as it gives one of the fairest representations of group of salaries. It removes the top earners and low earners from the equation, making the middle number representative of the group. If you’re moving to New York City, for example and want to know the median salary, it doesn’t do any good to know Donald Trump makes billions while a McDonald’s fry cooker makes $9/hour. By eliminating the largest and smallest numbers, researchers can see a more realistic view of the salary picture.

–Real Estate. Take the same example above and consider you’re moving to NYC. When looking at homes in the area versus those in the suburbs, you may want to compare the median prices. This way the penthouse at Trump Towers is eliminated, but so is the 300 sq foot condominium someone is trying to unload. The middle number, instead, is more likely to represent an accurate assessment. You’ll also understand what the Realtor is saying with they say the Min/Max/Median. They may give you three numbers regarding real estate: the minimum (Min), the maximum (Max) and Median (middle number). This helps you judge if NYC is the right area for you, or if you should look into the suburbs instead.

–Education. Here’s one they can relate to, as many students have been graded on a bell curve. This is a visual representation of median. To find out how a class did on a specific test, you could take the mean or the median for a fair representation. (It’s likely in a class, no two people make the same grade, so there could be no Mode). If you use the mean, the highest grade and lowest grade of the people who studied the most and least are reflected. But a teacher wants to know if the MAJORITY of the students understood the material. By finding the middle number, they are given a more realistic and fair representation of the test scores.

The median skill is one students will take with them for a life-time, using any number of times throughout life in real world situations.